As we head into October and the colors of autumn grow in vibrancy, we start seeing the re-emergence of pumpkins. They're everywhere in the fall, whether it's your local pumpkin patch or carved into a jack-o-lantern and perched on your front porch. However, the nutritional aspect of pumpkins is often passed over in favor of their decorative side. While their appearance is a vivid representation of the fall season, the season's signature squash also holds important nutrients and can provide positive effects for boosting your health and overall wellbeing. Let's take a look at some ways you can enjoy the benefits of pumpkins.
Pumpkin seeds are often underrated in terms of how great they are for your health. With a hefty dose of magnesium
, eating the seeds of pumpkins can provide positive effects for maintaining healthy blood pressure and preventing heart attacks, stroke and sudden cardiac arrest. Additionally, pumpkin seeds contain zinc to aid with strengthening your immune system and supporting your prostate health, among other areas of your health. Promoting more effective insulin regulation and more restful sleep are two other positive aspects of consuming pumpkin seeds, due to their antioxidants
and tryptophan content—an amino acid that contributes to the production of serotonin and melatonin, which are necessary in improving your mood and sleep patterns.
If you're looking for a delicious way to enjoy the benefits of pumpkin seeds, try extracting them from a fresh pumpkin, washing them off and then eating them raw, shells and all. Seeds can also be roasted and lightly salted for a crunchy, tasty treat.
The actual pumpkin “body” is rich with vitamins and nutrients. Mashed pumpkin contains a significant amount of carotenoids, which are free-radical-neutralizing, fat-soluble nutrients that may be able to provide protection against cancer cells and even prevent wrinkles, according to an article from Health Magazine
. Another great reason to enjoy pumpkin is because of its high level of potassium
, a contributor to maintaining excellent muscle function and balancing electrolytes after workouts. Fiber and the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene are also found in pumpkin. Necessary for healthy digestion and the removal of waste from your body, fiber-rich foods can also play a role in helping you to lose weight by keeping you feeling full and satisfied after eating. Vitamin C and beta-carotene protect your body from free radical damage and oxidative stress, and they may also lower your risk of developing cancer and heart disease, says the University of Maryland Medical Center
One yummy way to receive the benefits of pumpkin is by making pumpkin bread with some essential vitamin A and a double dose of antioxidant protection when you add at least 60% cocoa chocolate chips. At only 152 calories per serving, this recipe from Health magazine
is a good one to try.
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkins
½ cup canola oil
½ cup fat-free vanilla pudding
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then combine the first five ingredients on the list in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Then lightly add flour to measuring cups and level it out with a knife. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium-size bowl, stirring well. Next add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until moist. Then add the chocolate chips. Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees, and then cool for 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; then remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
When pumpkin seeds are pressed, the oil extracted from them can be used to boost your health, too. Pumpkin seed oil can be used as a light and omega-3-rich salad dressing or even used to garnish vegetables like asparagus or sweet potatoes. In addition, this oil can also be taken in pill or capsule form, which can aid with maintaining healthy cholesterol
levels, strengthening prostate
health and function and fighting inflammation. One unexpected method of using pumpkin seed oil that may likely grow in popularity—due to the success of other similar vegetable and fruit-derived oils—is to apply it to your skin. With an abundance of vitamin E
, polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants, pumpkin seed oil can revitalize your skin by imparting ample hydration and acne-fighting support; it can also help even out skin tone and leave your skin looking fresh, soft and youthful.
Before the autumn season ends, make sure you do more than simply admire the pumpkin's colorful appearance: take the time to enjoy its health and nutritional perks as well.
Have a great day, and check back tomorrow at eVitamins for more healthy living tips!
About The AuthorDr. Matt Marturano, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician and received his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and also has a dual Bachelor of Science in Biology and Philosophy from the University of Michigan. In addition, Dr. Marturano currently is a member of the Michigan Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is the Director of Recruitment - Integrative Medicine for Orchid Holistic Search.
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