I know that I have previously dedicated entire posts to my love of everything pumpkin, but this time we aren’t just going to talk about how much I love pumpkin spice lattes and anything else with the word “pumpkin” in it. Surprising to most are the great health benefits of consuming pumpkin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a sucker for a hot and fresh latte, but the sugar and carb content of those PSLs has me running for something a little lighter. So, let’s look at some of the great reasons you should indulge in a little bit of that fall squash.
Just like other members of the squash family, pumpkin is loaded with fiber. We all know fiber to be a great filler, helping to keep you feeling fuller longer. Fiber slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. When you eat foods high in fiber, such as pumpkin, the sugar in those foods is absorbed slower, which keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast. This is good for you because spikes in glucose fall rapidly, which can make you feel hungry soon after eating and lead to overeating. Aside from keeping you full, diets high in fiber have been studied endlessly, and have proven to reduce the risk of heart disease in men and women. You can clock in 3 grams of fiber in just one cup of mashed pumpkin!
2. VITAMIN A
If you’re thinking about grabbing a cup of pumpkin to boost your fiber intake, get this! A cup of pumpkin (cubed in this case) contains close to twice the daily recommended intake of vitamin A! If you didn’t know, vitamin A is a key component in maintaining good vision. A bonus of this vitamin? It’s also been shown to help maintain healthy skin and is a key ingredient in many skin serums and creams. Wrinkles be gone!
I know all of you are thinking…”wait, isn’t that just from turkey?”. But, no, this amino acid is also found in the seeds of the pumpkin. Tryptophan is important in the production of serotonin in the body, a major mood booster. Serotonin has also been shown to promote better sleep. Happy, sleepy, and full…what a dream!
4. VITAMIN C
Whether or not vitamin C can really ward off colds is still up for debate, but pumpkins are a solid source of the essential nutrient. It seems that this vitamin does boost the immune system by facilitating the absorption of iron and therefore strengthening the body’s resistance to infection. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains nearly 20 percent of an adult female’s recommended daily need. Vitamin C also encourages collagen production needed for skin to maintain its elasticity and glow. Again- wrinkles be gone!
Lastly, pumpkin is also a pretty great source of potassium. Instead of reaching for a banana to boost your potassium, you may want to consider trying some pumpkin as an alternative. A cup of cooked pumpkin contains more of this nutrient, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. Even better? Pumpkin is much lower in sugar than bananas as well; a cup of cooked pumpkin only contains 3.2 grams whereas a banana has 14 grams!
With vitamins and nutrients like this packed into those suckers, how could you not want to incorporate them into your diet? Whether you choose to mash it, cubed it, bake it, or boil it, just remember to stick to the whole food source of pumpkin and keep the pumpkin spice lattes to a minimum. Though delicious, they lacked the good for you stuff that the real deal provides.
If you’re like me, and you are currently compiling your recipes and grocery list for this week’s holiday festivities, don’t forget to include the pumpkin. You’ll really shock the family when you slap down a squashy creation other than pumpkin pie!