The Healthy Pumpkin

Autumn is a time for carving pumpkins, and making delicious fall treats.  During the Halloween season, we see many carved pumpkins lining porches and front yards.  These bright orange works of art also make tasty treats for us to enjoy: pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spiced bread, pumpkin soup, and so much more!  This great orange fruit has many health benefits that make a nice addition to our weekly diets.

Pumpkin is a low-calorie food.  One cup of puree pumpkin contains only 50 calories, over 200% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, high dietary fiber, and antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, and minerals like potassium and zinc… all without any cholesterol or saturated fat.

With such a rich source of nutrients, pumpkin yields many health benefits, including:

  • Supporting immune health with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C
  • Keeping skin youthful with the high amount of vitamin A, C, E and zinc.
  • Promoting cardiovascular health with the mono-unsaturated fatty acids and high concentration of dietary fiber.
  • The high fiber may help you to stay fuller longer and maintain a healthy weight.

Roasting and pureeing pumpkin can be a time-consuming venture.  Canned 100% pumpkin is already roasted and pureed, and can be easily added to your recipes – the hard work is already done for you!  Some tasty suggestions for recipes include:

  • Roast with your favorite seasonings, like cumin and pepper.
  • Mix with mashed potatoes for a delicious side-dish.
  • Add puree pumpkin to warm chili and serve over cornbread.
  • Stir ½ cup into your morning oatmeal to perk up your breakfast.
  • Look for “healthier” recipes for your favorite dessert treat.
  • Cook a pumpkin soup for a nice warm dinner.
  • Even the seeds provide many of the same benefits as the fleshy inside! – try roasting them and toss with ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese, or cinnamon and sugar.

Pumpkin is a naturally low-calorie food, rich in antioxidants, and fiber – all of which provide many health benefits in our weekly diet!  Just go easy on the classic pumpkin pie – aim for “healthier” options that keep this delicious food low on calories and high on nutritional benefits!

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