Pumpkins for Health
Monday, September 12, 2016
Fall is rapidly approaching! Despite still being a few weeks away, pumpkin has already taken over and seems to be everywhere! Sure, it makes a great flavor addition to desserts and coffee and it is certainly a must for decorating. But did you know that pumpkin is actually excellent for your health?
To start, pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps with skin health, the immune system, and even eyesight. In relation to vitamin A, pumpkin also contains beta-cryptoxanthin which helps reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases. It is actually ranked as one of the top beta-cryptoxanthin containing foods and is highly recommended by rheumatologists across the world.
Pumpkin is also an excellent source of healthy fats. Seeds, in particular, are full of protein, zinc, and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. They are also a source of unsaturated fat, fiber, and various antioxidants. One cup of pumpkin contains nearly 12 grams of protein and about half of the average individual’s recommend daily dose of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted freshly in your oven with little preparation and are an easy snack to take with you on the run. Their easy preparation, affordability, and shelf life make them a must have snack.
Potassium is essential for our hearts and muscles to be strong and to work properly and optimally. One cup of pumpkin contains over 500mg of potassium making it one of the highest sources amongst various fruits and vegetables. Because of pumpkin’s high potassium levels, it is great to eat post workout since it has been found to help with electrolyte and muscle recovery. Try adding a few bites of pumpkin to your post workout routine to get the benefits listed above and to help with recovery.
Unfortunately, like most fruits and vegetables, pumpkin tends to be seasonal and can be hard to find throughout the year. Although canned foods can lack the nutrients and vitamins found in fresh versions, canned pumpkin still maintains enough of its benefits to be useful and enjoyed. Keep cans in your pantry for a quick addition or substitution in your favorite recipes or as a snack.