Over the past decade, America’s obsession with pumpkin has been growing. As we all know, pumpkins are no longer just for carving. What started as an innocent pumpkin spice flavored latte has turned into pumpkin spice breakfast sausage, pumpkin spice beer, pumpkin spice chewing gum and pumpkin-spice-flavored-everything! But that pumpkin obsession could pay off in the long run, with benefits to your health.
In its raw state, pumpkin is a squash that is loaded with health benefits, such as aiding vision and weight loss, reducing cancer risk and boosting the immune system. So put down the processed pumpkin, and reach for recipes that contain real, minimally processed fruit!
Pumpkins Aid Vision
According to the National Institutes of Health, one cup of mashed pumpkin boasts more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which helps vision, specifically in low light. Pumpkins are also full of carotenoids, the pigment that gives the fruit its orange hue, including beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, providing even more protection for your eyes.
Pumpkins Aid Weight Loss
Pumpkin contains three grams of fiber per one-cup serving, and at only 49 calories, it can keep you full longer while consuming less calories. Studies show that diets high in fiber can help trim your waistline.
Pumpkins May Reduce Cancer Risk
Pumpkins, along with their fiery-colored friends, the carrot, the butternut squash and the sweet potato, all contain beta carotene. In addition to aiding eyesight, beta carotene may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. Phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds may also fend off certain cancers.
Pumpkins Can Support Your Immune System
Pumpkin season coincides with cold and flu season, which is good news for you! One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 11 mg of vitamin C, nearly 20 percent of the recommended daily intake, which can help support your immune system.
Have you jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon yet? To get the most out of this pumpkin season, limit your intake of pumpkin treats high in sugar and fat, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte or pumpkin cheesecake, and search for recipes that are less processed and more nutritious.
Speak with a nutritionist or physician at AFC about any questions or concerns you may have with your diet and if you feel that you are not meeting your daily recommended dietary intake.