No other seasonal vegetable is as connected to a popular “holiday” as the pumpkin is to Halloween! As a child the thought of actually eating the flesh and seeds of what were destined to be jackolanterns was unthinkable. But today, this winter squash (a member of the cucurbits family) is being used for everything: from beer and lattes, to skin creams and exfoliators. The pumpkin has achieved true star power in the vegetable world. So this week, we’re happily featuring the very versatile and incredibly healthy PUMPKIN!
Click here to see all the great places in our area to buy pumpkins as well as other fall fruits, vegetables and flowers!
AND DON’T THROW AWAY THOSE SEEDS
THEY ARE SUPER HEALTHY!
HERE ARE OUR FAVORITE PUMPKINS RECIPES
MASALA ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS (bonus recipe!)
MORE NUTRITIONAL & HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT PUMPKINS
from Medical News Today.com
Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.
Consuming adequate potassium is almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension (high-blood pressure). Other foods that are high in potassium include cantaloupe, avocado, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, spinach, and bananas.
Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.
Research has demonstrated a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduction in the occurrence of prostate cancer; this is according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
The authors of the study concluded:
“We found a statistically significant inverse association between higher plasma lycopene [a type of beta-carotene] concentrations and lower risk of prostate cancer, which was restricted to older participants and those without a family history of prostate cancer.”
The antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene (all of which are found in pumpkin) have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
A study, involving more than 100,000 participants, investigated the effect of antioxidant vitamins and beta-carotene on age-related maculopathy (ARM) – damage to the part of the eye that provides our central vision.
They concluded that “These data suggest a protective role for fruit intake on the risk of neovascular ARM.”
For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets appear to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications.
The vitamin A in pumpkin (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.
Plant foods like pumpkins that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.
Nutritional breakdown of pumpkin
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained, and without salt, contains:
- 49 calories
- 1.76 grams of protein
- 0.17 grams of fat
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 12 grams of carbohydrate (including 2.7 grams of fiber and 5.1 grams of sugar)
Consuming one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100 percent of our daily needs for vitamin A, 20 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 10 percent or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese, and at least 5 percent for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Of course, using fresh pumpkin and preparing it at home will deliver the most health benefits, but canned pumpkin is also a great choice. Be sure to steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix, which is usually right next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores and in a similar can but has added sugars and syrups.
Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient: pumpkin.