Fall is upon us, and that means an influx of fall flavors: cinnamon, apple, squash and everybody’s favorite, pumpkin. From the classic pumpkin pie to the infamous pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin is everywhere this time of year. You could call it an obsession. (I know I’m guilty.) It’s earthy, warm and comforting. Not only that, but it’s healthy, too!
Here are 7 reasons to eat more pumpkin this fall:
1. Vitamin A
According to the National Institute of Health, 1 cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin puree has 200% of your daily intake of vitamin A, which helps keep your eyesight healthy, especially in dim light. Along that same line, vitamin A also helps prevent age-related macular disease in the elderly. The vitamin A comes from compounds called carotenoids that give pumpkins their orange color. One kind of carotenoid is the antioxidant beta-carotene, which has been shown to prevent cancer.
Each 1 cup serving of pumpkin has 3 grams of fiber, which helps keep you full throughout the day. Also, 100 grams of the stuff only has 26 calories, no cholesterol and no saturated fat.
3. Heart benefits
If you’re working with a whole pumpkin, don’t forget to save the seeds! Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds included) are rich in plant-based chemicals called phytosterols, which help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and even fight off certain types of cancer such as lung and oral cavity cancers. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, zinc, protein and niacin as well.
4. Skin benefits
Pumpkin’s carotenoid compounds can also keep your skin wrinkle free, as they keep your skin and mucus membranes in tip-top shape.
5. Mood booster
Pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which aids in the production of serotonin. Higher levels of serotonin are linked to better sleep, a better mood, and higher pain tolerance.
Turns out, pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! 1 cup of the orange stuff has 564 milligrams of potassium compared to 422 milligrams in a banana. Potassium is a nutrient that helps restore your electrolyte levels after a hard workout. It also prevents muscle cramps, allowing your muscles to function at their best.
7. Vitamin C
1 cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams of vitamin C, nearly 20% of your recommended daily intake. With flu season approaching, it’s important to get enough vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy!
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