Before you reach for that cookie, consider the health benefits of pumpkin and try a few new ways to incorporate it into a sensible diet.
There are a lot of different pumpkin products available this time of year, many of them being baked goods that are full of sugar and fat. While there are a number of health benefits of pumpkin, don’t fool yourself into thinking that by eating a piece of pumpkin cake you’re enjoying a healthy snack!
Halloween tends to mark the official start of the holiday season, which for many people means over-indulging in unhealthy food. There always seems to be a bowl of candy in the office, people often bring cookies and other treats to share with friends, and of course there are the big holiday meals. Pumpkin can certainly be a part of your healthy holiday diet, but make sure it doesn’t always come in the form of a sugary beverage or baked good.
Forget about all the bad stuff that normally gets added to this seasonal squash and take a look at these health benefits of pumpkin.
- High in fiber. One cup of pumpkin puree contains 8 grams of dietary fiber. This aids with digestion and can also help with weight loss as it helps you feel full.
- High in potassium. One cup will give you about 10% of your recommended daily potassium requirement.
- High in iron. A one cup serving contains 3.4 grams of iron, which supports your immune system.
- High in vitamins A and E. These help your eyesight and boost your immune system.
- High in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may play a role in preventing cancer.
- Pumpkin seeds can help your heart and your mood. The seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is necessary to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being. They are also packed with heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats.
Here’s a few healthy ways you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet.
- Add some unsweetened pumpkin puree to a protein smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
- Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds onto a salad.
- Stir pumpkin puree into soup, chili or stew to give it a rich texture without added fat.
- Add some to your morning oatmeal or Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Roast cubed pumpkin with a little olive oil and spices.