Meet The Ingredient: Pumpkin
Meet..PUMPKIN! Fall marks the time of year where everything and everyone becomes pumpkin-OBSESSED! The flavor, the ingredient can be found in just about anything from coffees, cereals, yogurts, milks..everything. While I tend to stay away from the artificially flavored pumpkin products, I am all for making the most out of the pumpkin as an ingredient during the fall months. *Check below for some of my pumpkin recipes!*
While pumpkins can be found lined up home porches for Halloween, or decorative center pieces for dinner, did you know that pumpkin is actually loaded with nutritional benefits that can add to our overall wellbeing? That’s right! Only recently did I begin to incorporate pumpkin into more of my diet and typically only do so when pumpkin is in season.
Let’s learn a little bit more about the nutritional benefits this holiday ingredient has to offer:
Pumpkin aids in significant weight loss. That’s right! Many fruits and vegetables are loaded with natural plant based fiber that help aid the digestive system in eliminating waste and toxins from the body. Pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber per cup and only 49 calories, which can help you feel fuller longer preventing overeating and cravings.
Pumpkin is loaded with cancer fighting antioxidant, beta-carotene. Like all orange produce, sweet potato, carrots, squash to name a few, they each contain a powerful antioxidant known as beta-carotene which is responsible for its orange hue. Antioxidants help fight and prevent free radicals (disease causing toxins) from forming and inhabiting in the body. According to cancer.gov, “in laboratory and animal studies, the presence of increased levels of exogenous antioxidants has been shown to prevent the types of free radical damage that have been associated with cancer development.”
Pumpkin helps keep the skin clear and youthful. The same antioxidants that help prevent the multiplication of cancer cells in the body also help keep the skin radiant and youthful. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamins C, E, and A and powerful enzymes that help cleanse the skin. Pumpkin also contains hydrating properties which helps keep our largest organ, our skin, moisturized and firm.
Pumpkin makes an excellent post workout meal! That’s right, pumpkin is loaded with potassium, one cup of cooked pumpkin offers 564 milligrams of potassium compared to banana’s 422 milligrams. Potassium helps restore the body’s electrolytes lost during an intense workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, making them nutritional powerhouses. Several seeds like flax seeds, and hemp seeds contain cancer fighting antioxidants, excellent source of plant based protein and fiber that it’s no wonder pumpkin seeds would be on the same playing field when it comes to nutrition! Pumpkins are also naturally rich in plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol helping to prevent heart disease or stroke.