October 10, 2016
There is more to love about fall than changing leaves and spooky decorations, especially if you are a fan of all things orange and spicy – as in pumpkin spice. Nutrition experts will tell you that pumpkin season is truly a time to celebrate. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie and even delicacies like pumpkin seeds come packed with nutritious goodness. The versatility of the pumpkin makes you wonder why we only celebrate it once a year, especially since it is grown on every continent in the world except Antarctica. The U.S. alone produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year.
For whatever reason, people associate the bright orange one with fall, so now is a perfect time to learn more about this famous member of the squash family.
Your little trick-or-treaters will thank you one day for encouraging them to eat their pumpkin. Just one cup mashed provides more than 200 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin A – an important nutrient for eye health. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble essential nutrient found in bright colored vegetables and they don’t come much brighter than pumpkins.
The pigment that gives pumpkins that fabulous color is beta-carotene, also famous for the bright orange in carrots. The human body is able to convert this natural coloring to vitamin A, which in turn protects the eyes and improves eyesight.
What is it that makes pumpkin skin so tough when you are trying to carve a masterpiece? What about all that stringy stuff you pull out of the pumpkin? It’s called fiber, and it is vital for maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber helps fill the stomach, so you eat less naturally. It takes longer to digest high fiber foods, as well, so you stay full longer.
All that fiber comes cheap, too. One cup of pumpkin adds only 49 calories to your diet. Compare that to a small banana which will cost you over 100 calories.
When you carve your pumpkin this year, make sure to save the seeds for roasting. Nuts and seeds are a rich source of phytosterols, a plant-based chemical that may reduce bad cholesterol.
Phytosterols are similar chemically to the good cholesterol found in humans. Just 1.5 to 2.4 grams of the phytosterol in pumpkin seeds, for example, may reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood by as much as 10.5 percent, according to the European Food Safety Authority.
Probiotics have also been researched for their ability to assist in digestion and absorption of various nutrients as we reported in our Red Wine and Dark Chocolate blog last month. To maximize the absorption of the nutrients in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds make sure you take your daily Natren probiotics.
Pumpkin seeds are good sources of the amino acid tryptophan, – you know that stuff that makes you want to nap after eating your Thanksgiving Day turkey. Tryptophan is a critical nutrient for the production of serotonin, a chemical that improves your mood.
What can you do with all those pumpkin seeds? Wash them and then lay them out on a cookie sheet. Roast them lightly in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes and then serve them up as a snack food.
Potassium is used by every cell in the human body. It is an all-round critical nutrient that people tend to overlook. It helps maintain fluid balance and keeps muscles strong, too. Foods rich in potassium like the pumpkin contribute to heart, bone, and brain health.
Are you searching for that perfect food to refuel your body after a workout? Look no further than the pumpkin. That high level of potassium will restore your electrolytes, so you feel good after you exercise while helping your muscles heal at the same time. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin used any way you see fit adds as much as 564 mg of healthy potassium to your life.
Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, an essential vitamin for immune system health. It is unclear exactly what role vitamin C plays in the human body. Studies do show, however, that high levels of it in the blood are a typical marker for good health. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains over 11 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 20 percent of the recommended dose for women and around 15 percent for men.
Fall is definitely the season of the pumpkin, so go out and get yours while you can. Your body will thank you for the nutritional boost. Need more pumpkin inspiration? Take a look at our Pinterest Board FULL of healthy pumpkin recipes from pumpkin smoothies to pumpkin breakfast cookies and even pumpkin dog treats!
The post Pumpkin Everything!! Eat up These Healthy Pumpkin Facts appeared first on Natren Probiotics Blog.
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