As fall time rolls around, starbucks releases the famous pumpkin spice latte and your local costco stocks up on all of the delicious pumpkin pies. You walk through a pumpkin patch feeling the crisp autumn air with pumpkins all around. Pumpkins are one of the most popular fall fruits during the holiday season. Not only do they taste great mixed with sugar and spices, roasted with a drizzle of honey and in savory dishes such as stews, they also provide a ton of amazing health benefits. Today we will be talking about all of the great health benefits that consuming pumpkin may provide. I will also be sharing a few ways you can add the flavorful fall fruit into your diet.
Tip: when shopping for pumpkins that you will be eating look for pumpkins labeled as “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins”.
Pumpkin provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Some of those vitamins and minerals are vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids.¹ The sources of carotenoids that pumpkin provides are beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.¹⁻⁴
The carotenoids in pumpkin are a form of antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and fight off free radicals.¹ Free radicals in the body may cause mental health issues, brain health issues, promote aging, inflammatory diseases and cancer.⁴ Therefore, the antioxidants in pumpkin can aid in preventing chronic diseases.¹
Pumpkin packs a punch when it comes to fiber at 2.7g of soluble and insoluble fiber in 1 cup (245g).² Consuming adequate fiber is important to promote regularity and maintain a healthy gut.³ Pumpkin is a starchy carb that is lower in calories and contains a lot of fiber making it a filling carb source.³ The insoluble fiber in pumpkin can possibly prevent blood sugar from rising after eating.² This carb source may be helpful in managing or preventing type two diabetes mellitus.¹
Aside from being a fiber packed carb source, pumpkin seeds also contain healthy unsaturated fats such as omega - 3 fatty acids and protein in the pumpkin seeds. The healthy fats in pumpkin seeds can be a great way to add a healthier fat source into your daily diet.⁴ The unsaturated fats in the pumpkin seeds can play a role in promoting healthier skin, providing vitamin E, preventing chronic diseases and supporting inflammation.⁴
Just like the meat of the pumpkin, the seeds also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals such as choline, vitamin K, iron and zinc.¹ Pumpkin seeds also provide protein in an easy sustainable way. While the protein of pumpkin seeds is not a complete source of protein, it can be paired with other protein sources to be an addition to a balanced meal.¹
Healthier ways to add pumpkin into your diet!
There are many delicious ways to add pumpkin and the nutrient packed seeds into your diet. The options range from refreshing summer smoothies to comforting winter stews. While cooking your own pumpkin can be a fun activity, canned pumpkin puree can also be a great option. One thing to keep in mind is to look for labels that mention “pumpkin puree” or “natural pumpkin” instead of “pumpkin pie filling” as those options will not have any added sugar. The pumpkin seeds can also be roasted and used for salad toppings, yogurt toppings, smoothies and for snacking.
Overall pumpkin is a fall favorite for a reason. It is more affordable as it is in season and it packs a punch of micro and macronutrients. Aside from nutrition facts, it also always gives you that nostalgic and comforting feeling of fall.
Written by nutrition student Leslie Gonzalez
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