Since Thanksgiving is two months away, and pumpkin patches are just around the corner, I've decided to make the best of pumpkins which are in season right now. I honestly think we don't give enough attention to this superfood, and when we do, it's loaded with sugar, and other carbs. There are so many delicious healthy dishes that can be made with pumpkins and I am on a mission to try most of them. So why are pumpkins good for you?
Pumpkin is incredibly rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins, and low in sugar. Pumpkin is very high in potassium and vitamin A. Potassium is essential to our health since it works with sodium to maintain the body's water balance. The bright orange color of pumpkin is an indicator that pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. In this conversion, beta carotene contributes to many important health benefits. Current research indicates that beta-carotene in food may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and against heart disease. It's also rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. It contains a good source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Pumpkin has more than 2,400 mcg of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxntin. Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in reitina of the eyes. These natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds are significant in eye health and vision protection programs.
Pumpkin seeds are good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids which are good for heart health. Pumpkin seeds contain a large variety of minerals and other vital nutrients, such as iron, protein and fiber. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc which is needed to make the immune system's t cells. Zinc also increases our number of white blood cells.
How to select
Select a pumpkin that is completely orange. Size is an important factor. Medium pumpkins are best for pumpkin carving. Small pumpkins are better for cooking. Select smaller pumpkins with few blemishes that are heavy for their size and have their stems intact.
How to store
Store pumpkins in a cool, dark place for up to two months.
How to prepare
Wash pumpkin, and cut lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds and excess fiber. Trim skin with a knife or peeler.
I hope you give pumpkins another try as part of your healthy regime!