The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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.

 

pumpkin photo

There are many health benefits of pumpkin, just don’t let them be outweighed by sugar and fat.

Photo by RichardBowen

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