Wait, don’t leave yet! I promise this is not just another blog post about pumpkin spice in a latte or beer. Today, we are highlighting the health benefits of pumpkins, of which there are many.
Pumpkin spice may be the ubiquitous flavor of the fall season -- seriously it’s everywhere -- but the fruit the spice comes from packs quite the healthy punch.
(Fruit? Yes, pumpkins are a fruit. There’s a fun bit of trivia for the day).
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber. You probably know fiber as the thing your doctor keeps telling you to eat more of, and let’s face it, that’s great advice. Fiber is proven to assist your digestion system, reduces your risk of heart disease and regulates your blood sugar. All of those attributes are amazing and make pumpkin even more desirable in the fall.
Ever wonder why are pumpkins orange? It’s all thanks to beta-carotene, the same antioxidant that gives carrots their orange hue. What else can beta-carotene do? Oh, just be an important component in fighting cancer. The National Cancer Institute lists antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E as chemicals that neutralize free radicals and prevent them from doing damage to your body. Free radicals can build up in your cells and trigger a chain reaction leading to cancer. Filling up on antioxidants like beta-carotene helps your body fight these cancerous toxins.
Pumpkins are so visually appealing: big, round and orange, they command your attention. But pumpkins are good for your eyes in more ways than one: they add 200% of your daily intake of vitamin A. The vitamin supports healthy vision and is critical for your optical health.
Alright, so you know the benefits of pumpkins but how do you go about incorporating them into your diet? Soups are a great place to start as pumpkin turns thin soups into creamy and decadent delights. In the morning, try adding some canned pumpkin to your oatmeal turning it into a much healthier version of pumpkin pie. Canned pumpkin is a healthy addition to many baked goods like muffins and cornbreads as well.
Finally, don’t skip the seeds! A very easy treat to make by roasting, toasting, baking or just eating by themselves. They’re also filled with plant sterols which can reduce LDL, commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. Make sure to avoid putting too much salt on them which reduces their healthiness with the extra sodium.
After examining all the health benefits of this round, orange fruit, it becomes easier and easier to see why they’re becoming more popular each year. Embrace the pumpkinification of fall and reap the rewards!
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