Pumpkin is in everything these days—from lattes to chili to Oreos! Here are five reasons to love this trendy fall superfood.
FIGHT OFF DISEASE
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically recommend increasing intake of orange vegetables, which are a great source of the powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene to Vitamin A, which is best known for its role in maintaining eye health. Beta-carotene also helps prevent cell damage that can lead to diseases such as certain cancers and heart disease.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN
Pumpkin is a good source of Vitamin C and an excellent source of Vitamin A, both of which help keep skin healthy. Vitamin C is required for the production of skin-firming collagen, and Vitamin A may help to protect the skin from damage caused by the sun.
BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Antioxidants like Vitamins A and C from pumpkin can give your immune system a boost to keep your family healthy and ward off the flu and winter colds.
FILL UP WITH FIBER
Both fresh and canned pumpkin contain fiber, which can help maintain good digestive health. Because fiber can also help you feel full while eating less total calories, a diet high in fiber may help with weight control.
EAT THE SEEDS FOR A HEALTHY HEART
When carving your Halloween jack-o’-lantern, don’t throw away those seeds! Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, which may help to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Related Article: How to Toast Pumpkin Seeds
Canned pumpkin puree and fresh pumpkin are both low-calorie, heart-healthy choices. Canned pumpkin is an easy and budget-friendly ingredient you can keep on hand for making smoothies, muffins and quick breads or for adding a smooth, creamy texture to cooked rice and even chili!
Related Recipe: Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins
If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up a fresh pie pumpkin (the smaller varieties have a better flavor than the large Halloween pumpkins) at your local farmers. Simply cut the pumpkin in half, and place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until tender. Roasting brings out the naturally sweet flavor, and as a bonus, it makes your whole house smell like fall.
And don’t forget to try this simple Pumpkin Pie Smoothie recipe from the eMeals Healthy Breakfast Plan:
- 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
- 1½ cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
- 2 cups low-fat milk
- ¼ cup wheat germ (optional)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 2 cups crushed or cubed ice
- Combine pumpkin, yogurt, milk, wheat germ (if using), pumpkin pie spice and ice in a blender.
- Cover and pulse until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
And check out these additional pumpkin recipes:
What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Let us know in the comments!