Fall’s signature squash packs some powerful, healthy perks like supporting heart-health, vision and waistlines in check, as long as you take it easy on the pie, that is.
Are Pumpkins the Perfect Food? Well, no food is “perfect” on its own, but adding pumpkins to your diet can certainly help you in many ways. Read on!
DID YOU KNOW….
A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional eye protection.
Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with 3 grams per one-cup serving only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories. A fiber-rich diet seems to help people eat less, and thereby shed pounds. A 2009 study found that people who ate a whole apple before lunch (the fiber is in the skin) consumed fewer calories throughout the meal than people who ate applesauce or drank apple juice, WebMD reported.
Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. Food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than a supplement, according to the NIH — even more reason to scoop up some pumpkin today. And the plant sterols in pumpkin seeds have also been linked to fighting off certain cancers.
Pumpkins Protect the Skin
The same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free. Health magazine reported.
Pumpkin Seeds May Boost Your Mood
Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, the famed ingredient in turkey that many think brings on the need for that post-Thanksgiving feast snooze. While experts agree that it’s likely the overeating rather than the tryptophan lulling you to sleep, the amino acid is important in production of serotonin, one of the major players when it comes to our mood, WebMD reports. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help your outlook stay bright.
Roasted Pumpkins Recipe
Here’s an easy pumpkin recipe that will delight your guests at Thanksgiving or anytime! With pumpkins in season right now, it’s the perfect time to make this. It’s great alongside turkey, or, for a dessert. The sweet, sometimes tartness of applesauce scooped up on your spoon with the soft flesh of the pumpkin is absolutely delicious. Try it!
- 4 small sugar pumpkins; cut a round hole at the top and remove the seeds and stringy pulp, leaving the flesh of the pumpkin on the sides.
- 2 cups applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and lightly grease a medium baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix applesauce, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
- Spoon mixture evenly into all 4. Since sizes may vary, you can also double the amount of applesauce if need be.
- Place pumpkins in the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake in the preheated oven 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until pumpkins are tender. Remove and sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like and/or roasted pumpkin seeds. Or, add a dollop of whipped cream if you dare! :-)
Recipe courtesy of: allrecipes.com