It turns out that Charlie Brown got it right after all: we really should be calling that familiar orange squash the “Great” pumpkin after all. For many of us, pumpkin serves merely as a filling for pie crust at Thanksgiving. But look beyond the holidays or Halloween, and you’ll discover that this unassuming winter vegetable can offer myriad contributions to your health all year round.
Pumpkin Is Rich in Carotenoids
Inflammation is a key risk factor in developing chronic diseases as we age: many chronic conditions, from arthritis heart disease are the consequence of inflammation in various parts of the body. Pumpkin is rich in carotenoids, an important group of antioxidants that are converted to Vitamin A in the body and act as powerful anti-inflammatories. These free radical fighters (the same health-promoting compounds found in carrots, associated with eye health) also boost immune function. As a result, adding pumpkin to your soups, salads or side dishes is a tasty way to improve your immunity and help prevent various chronic conditions at the same time.
High Fiber, Low Fat Pumpkin Stabilizes Blood Sugar
According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 Americans—almost 10% of the population–have diabetes, and the numbers continue to grow almost daily. It’s well known that a healthy diet can help to prevent the disease, and pumpkin fits in here, too. A single cup of cooked pumpkin offers 7 grams of fiber (almost 30% of your RDA) and only 1 gram of fat (with no saturated fat). Consuming this orange powerhouse will help keep your “bad” cholesterol levels low and your blood sugar levels steady, in a healthy range.
Pumpkin Contains Key Vitamins and Minerals
Like many vegetables, pumpkin is a great source of major nutrients. With only 82 calories in a one-cup serving, pumpkin provides more than 200% of your daily Vitamin A; one third of your Vitamin C; as well as manganese, potassium, iron, copper and magnesium. And let’s not forget the precious seeds inside: pumpkin seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids and have even been shown to help prevent and treat parasites, according to Paul Pitchford in his book Healing with Whole Foods.
Yes, a well-carved pumpkin looks great on your front porch when you want to attract the neighborhood kids on October 31st. But it’s so much more than that: this health-promoting veggie not only adds variety and flavor to your meals, but can contribute to your good health over the years as well.