The Great Pumpkin

By Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN

It is commonly thought of as a vegetable, but pumpkin is actually a fruit and it is packed with nutrients. Let’s dive into some of the amazing health benefits of pumpkin and how you can add it into your diet.

It’s great for your eyes

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A which is great for vision and your immune system. Just one cup of pumpkin can provide over 200% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A.

It’s healthy for your heart

Pumpkin is high in potassium which is a key ingredient for heart health. It also contains vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants which can all prevent heart disease.

Boosts your immune system

A serving of pumpkin provides 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C which is an immune booster.

Contains carotenoids

Carotenoids are plant pigments produced by yellow, read, and orange plants like pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, and squash. These combat the effects of free radicals in your body.

Keeps you full

At just 50 calories per cup and 3 grams per fiber, pumpkin can help you feel full and satisfied.

Healthy seeds

The healthy benefits of pumpkin seeds include improved bowel and prostate health, and lower risk of heart disease. They are high in magnesium and other nutrients. They make for a tasty protein packed snack that travels well. Add them to salad, granola, or yogurt for some added crunch.

Tips to add more pumpkin to your diet

  • Roast pumpkin in the oven for a side dish
  • Stir pureed or canned pumpkin into soups or sauces (even tomato sauce) to thicken
  • Substitute pumpkin for fat or oil in breads, pancakes, or muffins
  • Add to plain or vanilla yogurt with some pumpkin spice and a drizzle of honey
  • Mix pumpkin into your smoothie

As you can see, there is a “latte” love about pumpkin so you may consider eating it year round instead of just the fall.

Source: Today’s Dietitian

Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN
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