With fall, comes pumpkins. It’s inevitable. It’s the way life works. Those orange gourds just scream “autumn!” (unless they’re Jack ‘O Lanters in which case they scream out spooky noises).
But pumpkins do so much more than just decorate our mantels or go into our Thanksgiving pie; they’re actually super nutritious.
And not just the pickin’-patch stuff, the canned pumpkin puree (in BPA-free cans, preferably) also provide us with substantial nutrition (without ANY preservatives). Here’s how:
They can Improve Our Eyes
Just half a cup of pumpkin puree provides almost 300% of our daily requirement for Vitamin A. What’s that good for? Improving and prolonging our vision and overall keeping our eyes, skin, bones and teeth healthy.
They can Help us Ward off Sickness
Pumpkin is also very rich in beta-carotene (commonly known as “the stuff that makes things orange”). Beta-carotene is helpful in boosting our immunity and has been said to play a role in cancer prevention. Also, 1 cup of pumpkin can provide more than 11 milligrams of vitamin C, about 3.4 grams of iron and about 15% of your daily vitamin E needs, all which are said to help boost immunity.
They can Help us “Go”
Fiber, the “roughage” in plants that help us have healthy bowel movements as well as keeps us fuller longer so we eat less (and then maybe weigh less), is plentiful in pumpkin. One cup of pumpkin puree contains a whopping 7 grams of fiber. That’s a pretty hefty portion when the recommended daily intake of fiber is 14 grams per every 1000 calories consumed.
Their Seeds Could Make Us Happier
(And not just because they’re oh-so-delicious when they’re roasted.) Pumpkin seeds, which come from the gooey center of the pumpkin, are loaded with tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin, aka the “happy hormone,” which is said to ease depression. Tryptophan also can help us sleep quicker, deeper and longer, because after it gets converted into serotonin it gets converted to melotonin, which is also known as the “sleep hormone.” And who isn’t happier when they get more sleep?
They Give Bananas a Run for their Potassium Money
While bananas are usually synonymous with potassium, autumn presents them with a feisty competitor. It might be hard to believe, but 1 cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! What’s potassium good for? Balancing your electrolytes after a heavy workout, keeping you hydrated, helping your muscles function their best and supporting healthy digestion.
Juicing is a phenomenal way to give your body a quick injection of pure healthiness, but sometimes it’s hard to get those juices “down.” Well, not with pumpkin, which is actually completely juice-able. Just wash the pumpkin well, peel off the thick skin, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp attached to them (roast them later! they’ll make you happy – see below), cut into small chunks and send through your juicer! Pumpkin is delicious to juice with some carrots, apple and ginger. Or, you can juice it alone and then mix the juice with coconut water and pumpkin pie spice, for a pumpkin potassium powerhouse drink.
They’re Super Low in Calories
We keep talking about all the good things pumpkin is HIGH in, so how about we mention some bad things pumpkin is LOW in. Calories are one of these things. What’s amazing is that there’s only 100 calories in a cup of pumpkin! And, considering all the fiber that pumpkin provides, this means pumpkin will help you feel fuller for a long time, with very few calories. It’s a win-win.
They’re also “Low” in Fat
Low fat is an understatement. Look on the back of your can label – a serving of pumpkin puree contains zero fat.
But don’t just sit there admiring this super squash; go eat it! Pumpkin is great to:
– mix into hot oatmeal, hot quinoa or even overnight oats
– bake with in place of oil (in breads, cookies, oatmeal, pancakes, etc.)
– blend into smoothies
– stir into soups
– heat with almond milk, stevia and pumpkin pie spice to make a sugar-free, coffee-free latte
– season to be savory or sweet
– get creative with!
Talia Pollock is the creator of Party In My Plants the place to go to learn how becoming happier and healthier doesn’t have to totally suck. As a holistic health coach, former comedian and plant-based chef, she has made it her mission in life to help others find that eating healthfully can actually be as fun as a party. Through her blog posts videos and Instagram photos Talia proves that it’s possible to take ginger shots and eat kale while keeping a huge smile on your face. Want some super things you can do RIGHT NOW to immediately get your party started? Grab her free ebook to find out.
Photo credit: Rich Bowen