With the fall season upon us and Halloween a few days away, there are always a plethora of pumpkin products on grocery store shelves and in produce aisles. As it turns out, pumpkin is full of incredible health benefits, from its fruit to seeds. While many of the tasty pumpkin offerings may look or smell delicious, it is important to choose pure pumpkin, not artificially flavored pumpkin, which offers little to no nutritional value.
Even though you can find pumpkin in canned form at any time of year and fresh pumpkins can seem spooky in their jack-o’-lantern state, this trendy fall food is often forgotten for what it really is: a super high-quality, nutritionally dense and versatile member of the gourd family.
One cup of canned pumpkin has about 7 grams of fiber (about 20% of the recommended daily amount), whereas kale has a little less than 3 grams. While both have a place on your plate, the fiber content of pumpkin will fill you up, help stabilize blood sugar, and keep your energy up throughout the day.
Pumpkin is loaded with health promoting minerals including potassium, magnesium, and iron. These are necessary for providing oxygen to red blood cells. Surprisingly, one cup of pumpkin packs 14% of your daily value for potassium, whereas one banana has 12%.
Magnesium is a vital component to more than 600 chemical reactions in the body, including controlling blood pressure, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and much more. Yet, the vast majority of adults are deficient in this essential mineral.
Pumpkin is packed with beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A (an important antioxidant for visual acuity and skin integrity) as well as vitamins C and E, which are important components for repairing damaged cells and tissues. Diets rich in antioxidants and potassium are also linked to helping reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Pro Tip: Pumpkin seeds are a great natural source of magnesium, and are easy to prepare. Simply spread them on a sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 325 degrees F. Roast until toasted, about 25 minutes. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of other nutrients, including manganese, copper, protein, and many anti-oxidants.
Whether you feel that trick or treating is beyond your years or you are preparing for a night out scaring the neighbours, Halloween is the perfect time to create some festive looking pumpkin dishes to be enjoyed at home or to take along somewhere to share.
Pumpkin Recipe Roundup