Pumpkin is a popular fall and winter fruit for great reason! Not only is it seasonally appropriate, but it has many health benefits. From consuming the flesh to the seeds, you’re bound to ingest some good nutrition in addition to some tasty treats.
Check out some of our favorite benefits from Fall’s Festive Fruit
- Better eye sight. One cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin has over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids both vision and eye protection.
- Weight loss. With three grams of fiber and less than 50 calories per one-cup serving, pumpkin can help you feel fuller for longer on less calories, making it an ideal food for weight loss.
- Heart health. Pumpkin seeds, along with many other nuts and seeds, are a rich source of phytosterols, a plant-based phytonutrient that has been proven to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
- Reduced cancer risk. Beta-carotene, rich in the orange-hued pumpkin, may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Skin protection. The same antioxidants in the beta-carotene that can reduce cancer risk can also keep skin protected and wrinkle-free.
- Mood-boosters. Tryptophan, an amino acid, is plentiful in pumpkin seeds. This amino acid is important in the body’s natural production of serotonin, which plays a big role in our mood.
- Workout recovery. Pumpkins are a great source of potassium, containing even more than bananas. This can help balance your body’s electrolytes after an intense workout, and will also continue to keep your muscles working as efficiently as possible.
So what are some ways you can use this fabulous super fruit?
- Roast it! Slice a small pumpkin in half (be careful!) or quarters, depending on how big it is. Remove the seeds (save them!) and place the pumpkin flesh-side down in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees for around 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is fork tender. Roasted pumpkin can be eaten as is or thrown into salads and soups, or pureed.
- Puree it! If you’ve already roasted your own pumpkin, all you have to do is use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to puree the pumpkin flesh to a smooth consistency. Once pureed, it can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, soups, or baked goods.
- Make a smoothie! Try blending up this ingredients for a cool, pumpkin beverage: ½ frozen banana, 1/3 c. pureed pumpkin, 1/3 c. fat-free, plain Greek yogurt, ¾ c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice, and a few ice cubes. (This smoothie is only 150 calories with 3 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein!)
- Roast the pumpkin seeds. The best part about roasting and pureeing your own pumpkin is the pumpkin seeds. After rinsing the seeds, distribute them in a single layer on a foil-covered cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 40-45 minutes. For a little seasoning, try adding a sprinkling of sea salt, cinnamon, or chili powder.
- Soup’s on. Pumpkin can be used in many soups, like this delicious pumpkin soup recipe from the Mayo Clinic. If soup’s not your thing, try this Pumpkin Chili recipe. (Always be sure to use low sodium or no salt added products!)
- Sides galore. You can also try using pumpkin in fall-flavored side dishes like this Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pilaf.
As you can see, there are many, many ways that pumpkin can be utilized so you can take advantage of their vast health benefits. Try one of the above or comment with your favorite way to use pumpkin!