Whether they’re carved as spooky jack-o-lanterns, pureed into a tasty pie or used for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkins represent fall. But what do these nostalgic vibrant orange orbs offer our bodies? Learn about the nutritional benefits of these super health squashes and how to incorporate them into your meal plan with pleasant pumpkin recipes.
Pumpkins are a fall time favorite, reminding us of holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkins go beyond just their decorative purposes; they also provide our bodies with lots of good nutrition. Pumpkins are a winter squash, technically classified as a fruit because they contain seeds but when it comes to nutritional value, they more resemble a starchy vegetable. There are a variety, with different colors, shapes and sizes.
The ones associated with Halloween are called Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, which are fun to dress up but can also be eaten. Pie pumpkins are smaller and sweeter, making them perfect for pie or puree. Then there are the mini ones and lighter colored ones which are mainly used for decoration but can also be cooked.
Pumpkins are high in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while being low in calories. Let’s take a look at some powerful pumpkin benefits.
You can thank beta carotene for the bright orange color of pumpkins. Beta carotene gives yellow and orange fruit their color. In our body, beta carotene gets converted into vitamin A. We need this vitamin for good eye health, strong immunity and healthy skin (1).
Pumpkin is packed with the mineral potassium, which has been linked to better heart health. Potassium is also necessary to have when working out since it regulates the fluids in our body and supports our muscle contraction (2).
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, with the canned versions containing about seven grams per one-cup serving. Fiber is important for removing cholesterol from our bodies, in order to protect our heart, for our digestion as well as keeping our blood sugar balanced for consistent energy.
The plump portion of pumpkin isn’t the only healthy part. You can also roast and snack on pumpkin seeds with these superb health boosting nutrients.
Tryptophan is a protein building block, called amino acid, which our bodies convert into serotonin, the happy brain chemical. This helps us feel more relaxed and positive. Some research even suggests that having an ounce of pumpkin seeds in the evening can improve sleep (3).
Zinc is essential for our immune system by supporting our white blood cells (4). It’s important for sexual health inlcuding increasing testosterone and benefiting our prostate. It also supports growth and development.
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of vitamin E (5). Vitamin E helps keep our skin and eyes healthy. It also is a powerful antioxidant and supports our immune system so, alongside zinc, helps us fight off fall time colds or flus.
To enjoy all these incredible benefits of pumpkin this season, try this warm, cozy and delicious yet nutritious pumpkin recipe from Lifesum.
INGREDIENTS (12 servings)
Following a more plant-based way of eating? Try out our Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cups.
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