Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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Justification for all the great pumpkin recipes out there:

1. Great for weight loss!

One cup of cooked pumpkin has between 60-80 calories and up to 7 grams of fiber, meaning it will keep you feeling full longer. Studies have shown that fiber lowers the glycemic load of a meal, preventing blood sugar spikes and excess insulin output that leads to insulin resistance. This means that eating pumpkin can help you maintain a stable blood sugar, which helps fight sugar cravings, and overall can help you lose weight.

2. Eating pumpkin can brighten eyes, skin, and prevent cancer!

One cup of pumpkin provides 200-700% of the daily value of vitamin A.  Vitamin A and carotenoids (the phytonutrient that gives pumpkin their orange color) are great for eye and skin health. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which is important in keeping eyesight sharp, especially in dim light. Vitamin A and carotenoids brighten skin by reducing sebum production and preventing acne. Carotenoids are also antioxidants, protecting skin from the damaging effects of the sun and preventing skin cancer.

3. Great for post workout recovery!

For any of you who have ever experienced muscle cramps following exercise, you may need to be replacing electrolytes- especially potassium and magnesium. We’ve all heard that bananas are a good source of potassium, but did you know that pumpkins are even higher in potassium than bananas with 500 mg per one cup serving? Pumpkins also have 14% of the recommended daily value for magnesium, which helps lower blood pressure and prevent muscle cramps. Try this delicious smoothie following your next workout!

4. Great source of iron!

Dietary iron is necessary for preventing iron deficiency anemia. Iron is used to produce hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for carrying oxygen in our red blood cells. Without enough iron, we can’t make hemoglobin and our red blood cells can’t transport enough oxygen to our tissues. This can cause fatigue, exercise intolerance, and heart palpitations. Foods we usually think of as being high in iron are red meat, and dark green leafy vegetables, but pumpkin is also a great source of iron with 1 cup containing 20% of the recommended daily value. Pumpkin also contains 17% of the daily value for vitamin C, which is great for enhancing iron absorption.

5. Pumpkin is highly anti-inflammatory!

Inflammation is what we think of with all the disease processes ending in “-itis.” But many other diseases are thought to be triggered by inflammation (cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even Alzhemiers). Inflammatory foods are those that are processed, high in sugar, trans fats, are too high in omega-6 fatty acids (think agri-industry meat) and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory foods are high in vitamins, minerals and compounds called phytonutrients and phytosterols- found in plants and unprocessed whole grains. Wild caught, cold water fish (high in omega 3s) is also considered anti-inflammatory. Pumpkin- in minimally processed form- is considered highly anti-inflammatory as it is high in phytonutrients and fiber, and low in sugar!