October 26, 2021
Oh, and you can’t forget that pumpkin spiced latte.
Isn’t it kinda funny how pumpkin takes over the second a leaf hits the ground? Don’t worry because I am definitely NOT complaining. I actually picked up some fall goodies for myself!
And if we’re being honest, I think maybe we should all be eating pumpkin year-round! But not the stuff made with artificial flavoring. The food made with REAL pumpkin, straight from the patch… or can 😉
I don’t hear people talking about the health benefits of pumpkin very often. It almost seems like people forget it’s a fruit!
Let’s give pumpkin the credit it deserves! Here are some reasons why it’s super healthy for you.
Pumpkin’s list of vitamins and minerals is IMPRESSIVE
Wheewww who knew the base to so many desserts was actually so full of nutrients?!
Here’s the nutrition breakdown per cup of pureed pumpkin:
Pumpkin is an amazing source of vitamin A (one cup provides wellllll over the recommended daily intake), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate and other B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Another cool thing about pumpkin is that it’s 94% water. So not only is it hydrating, but it gives you a lot of volume on top of all those nutrients, for not very many calories. The pros have a term for this: nutrient dense.
And can we talk about pumpkin seeds?! Because those alone make a delicious little super snack.
First, pumpkin seeds are an amazing source of plant-based protein. You get 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving! In addition to the protein, pumpkin seeds are filled with healthy fats and minerals including iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Oh, and we can’t forget fiber! One serving of pumpkin seeds give you 2 grams, which makes this a great snack to boost your fiber intake.
Pumpkin is high in carotenoids which:
A. Give it that pretty orange color and
B. Function as antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the cells from damage. Free radicals, which form in the body due to natural and environmental factors, can seriously damage the cells. Your body produces some antioxidants naturally to fight free radical damage. Without them, we’d be in big trouble! “Boosting” antioxidants with a healthy diet might help to prevent diseases caused by free radical damage like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Where can you get more antioxidants? Colorful fruits and veggies (like pumpkin!), coffee, green tea, and dark chocolate are some of the best sources.
Pumpkin boosts your immune system
Okay so we listed a ton of nutrients, antioxidants, etc. so now let’s talk about how they actually benefit you!
First up, your immune system. Kinda important, right?!
So pumpkin is high in vitamin C, which we know is good to stay healthy. It boosts white blood cell production, which helps fight off infection if we do catch a bug.
It’s also rich in beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A. This vitamin is a key player for fighting infection and strengthening the immune system. In fact, some studies even suggest that people who aren’t getting enough vitamin A get sick more easily.
Those are the two big ones, but vitamin E, folate, and iron work within the immune system too!
It helps with tummy troubles
After struggling with bloating for so many years, I looooove to see a high fiber food that’s also easy on the tummy. Remember reading about how pumpkin is a good source of magnesium? Well, magnesium is amazing for digestion. It keeps you regular and combats constipation, which just makes you feel better all around.
Again, we’re talking about real, whole pumpkin. Not the artificially flavored stuff or foods with a ton of added sugar 😉 The PSL won’t quite work here!
Protect your eyesight
One of the many not-so-fun things that can come with aging includes problems with eyesight.
But some of the nutrients found in pumpkin might help lower your risk for these problems! Vitamin A is most known for being good for your eyes (this is why we associate carrots with our eyes!). Eating enough vitamin A is linked to decreased risk for cataracts, a pretty common eye condition in older people that can actually lead to blindness.
Other nutrients in pumpkin that keep your eyes happy and healthy: lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Secret skincare ingredient, anyone?
Another not-ideal effect of aging – changing skin.
They say sunscreen is one of the best preventative tools for wrinkles and damaged skin. That’s because the sun exposes your skin to harmful UV rays that damage the cells and lead to wrinkles and increased risk for skin cancer.
The antioxidants found in pumpkin protect your skin cells from damage. This helps to keep you looking youthful and also helps to protect your from skin cancer.
And that’s not all! Your body uses the vitamin C in pumpkin to make collagen, which keeps your skin looking healthy and full.
And there you have it! Some of the many reasons why pumpkin is super healthy for you!
If you want more pumpkin in your life but you’re not sure how, start with my Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe (coffee-free and made with REAL pumpkin!). I also loooove making this Pumpkin Pancake recipe in the fall.
One more fun way to use pumpkin before I leave you: Did you know you can sub pureed pumpkin for oil or butter when you bake?! SO COOL. I actually tried using it to sub for the banana in these Flourless Blender Muffins and omggg I couldn’t believe how good it was! Definitely try it soon!