By Eileen Ferrer, Skinny Gene Nutritionist
The golden leaves are falling, and cool breezes fill the night air, it is finally sweater weather; it’s fall. In my case, I know fall has arrived when comments and pictures start filling my newsfeed on any social media site with what seems to be the most popular food item of the season, the pumpkin. Once a year, pumpkin sweeps the nation, and many people indulge in anything pumpkin, like the very popular pumpkin spice latte. However, many of these commercial food items are typically high calorie foods in the form of beverages and desserts. Some of us may forget that the pumpkin is a very healthy fruit; yes it is a fruit that is low in calories, and contains a long list of health benefits, both inside and out.
The flesh of pumpkins is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A and C help with boosting your immune system, and vitamin A itself, promotes eye health, protecting them from degeneration and cataracts. They also have carotenoids, beta-carotene, alpha carotene and lutein, where in the body, carotenoids convert into vitamin A that provide the added protection against heart disease, help fight off cancer-causing free radicals and helps prevent wrinkles. Furthermore, beta-carotene contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties helping with joint inflammation and arthritis. Pumpkins are rich in fiber, promoting a healthy digestive system, and aids in maintaining blood sugars, and lowering cholesterol. The list goes on as the great pumpkin contains the mineral magnesium that helps with migraines; potassium, shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure; zinc, a mineral that helps build strong bones, keeps your immune system healthy, and aids in reproductive health. Lastly, pumpkins have the chemical compound, L-tryptophan, triggering feelings of well-being and happiness, preventing depression. This could be one explanation why people are happy when pumpkin-flavored food and beverages enter their lives during the fall.
Pop Some Pumpkin Seeds
However, it is not only the flesh of the pumpkin that provides healthful benefits, but the seeds are great too. When you carve your pumpkin this Halloween, keep the seeds. Give them a good rinse, and bake them for a quick and healthy snack. Pumpkin seeds contain protein; consuming one ounce has seven grams of protein. Also, pumpkin seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, which promote healthy skin and enhance brain power; and phytosterols that can lower risks for prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds also have additional vitamin A, magnesium, and zinc.
Pour a Pumpkin Spice Latte
The pumpkin definitely proves itself to be an amazing healthy fruit, and would definitely consider this to be a superfood. This season is far from over, and pumpkins are here to stay, at least for awhile. If you are craving that pumpkin spice latte, there is always a way to make a cheaper, lower calorie alternative. Click here for the healthier version.
Enjoy a happy, healthy pumpkin season.