The first lick of cool air in North America immediately brings pumpkins to mind. Their orange hue is synonymous with fall and their rind simply begs to be carved. But consider that pumpkins are much more than obligatory autumn porch decoration or filling for a Thanksgiving or Christmas pie. Did you know they’re one of the most nutritious foods on the planet?
7 Healthy Reasons To Enjoy Pumpkin
1. Pumpkin is easy to digest: The flesh of a pumpkin is used to make pies and soups that are healing, soothing and easy to digest so it is perfect when you are recovering from Inflammatory Bowel symptoms. It is so gentle on the digestive system it is one of the first foods to be introduced to babies. Pumpkin puree is also a perfect way to thicken sauces without adding glutenous flour.
2. Pumpkin is good for heart health:
One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 146 percent of the daily-recommended intake of beta carotene, which protects cholesterol from oxidation, which assists in the prevention of heart disease. Beta carotene (aka pro-vitamin A) is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient. (1
3. Pumpkin contains a natural colouring agent:
Cut out synthetic food colouring agents and opt for zeaxanthin, which is what creates the yellow/orange pigment of the pumpkin. Zeaxanthin is a caratenoid that is often used as a natural alternative to man-made food colouring. Keep in mind to always try and avoid products that list ingredients containing a colour and a number. (2
4. Pumpkin is a great source of dietary fibre:
Adding more fibre to your diet can aid in proper elimination, guard against heart disease and decrease levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
5. Pumpkin is high in antioxidants:
Pigments of dark green and orange colours show high levels of chlorophyll and caratenoids, which contain antioxidants. Loading up on antioxidants over the wintertime will help build up your immune system and help fend off pesky pathogens. (4
6. Pumpkin is a great source of potassium:
Recent studies have shown that increasing dietary potassium will actually block the body’s excretion of calcium, allowing less bone loss and lower rates of osteoporosis. (5
7. You can buy pumpkin locally: Though 'pumpkins' are native to North America, winter squash are grown throughout the world and can often be purchased at farmer's markets. Collecting your own pumpkin seeds to eat and plant is an easy fun activity (especially for kids).