The tree leaves are changing into the rich red, yellow and orange colours and the Canadian geese are making their way down south for the winter; Fall has officially arrived. With Canadian Thanksgiving fast approaching as well as Halloween which will showcase the spookily carved jack-o-lanterns pumpkin season has arrived. This deep yellow-orange vegetable takes about 75-100 days to grow in frost free conditions (The Almanac, 2013). While it grows it acquires many nutrients and minerals that have a wide array of health benefits to the human body. Pumpkins offer many versatile ways of cooking them into many different dishes such as pies, soups, purees, muffins, pancakes, and many more, these are some of the reasons pumpkins are a favourite Autumn staple.
3 health Benefits of Pumpkins
- High in Carotenoids
Carotenoids are the colorful plant pigment that gives pumpkins its famous yellow-orange colour; these carotenoids when digested by the body turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent or reduce cancer risk. Carotenoids may also help protect the lining of the arteries and the fats in the blood from free radicals oxidative damage as well as improve the body’s immune response to infections or inflammation. Carotenoids may also help wrinkles from forming on skin surface.
- Improve Mood
Pumpkin seeds in particular have large amounts of the amino acid, tryptophan which is used by the body to help with serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that connects many of the cells in the body so they can communicate with each one another. Studies have linked low levels of serotonin with depression.
- Reduce Cholesterol
Pumpkins are high in fibre. Fibre helps to rid the body of the bad cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds contain phytostenols which help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. A cup of pumpkin on average has about 3 grams of fibre. With healthy cholesterol, optimal heart function is achieved and rich nutrient rich, oxygenated blood flow to nourish all parts of the body.
-Since pumpkin is high in potassium it is a great post workout option to replenish your body of the minerals it may have lost during exercise.
-pumpkins are high in vitamin E, C, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron.
-ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS is a great healthy snack option. Mix seeds in bowl with oil and salt, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in 375 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden yellow colour. Let cool and enjoy.
REMEMBER the healthier you are the younger you’ll be.
By Gorretti Francisco
Nurse Practitioner, BScN, ISSA CFT
Follow her on Instagram: gorrettifrancisco or twitter: @Gorretti_F
The Old Farmer’s Almanac (2013). www.almanac.com
National Cancer Institute
National Institute of Health