Friday Feature - Pumpkin

It's yummy, it's seasonal and it's everywhere.

We are in a full on taste-bud takeover from this orange goddess, and it seems impossible to walk past a shop or open a magazine without something being pumpkin themed. It's in our coffee, our snack bars, our soups, and hopefully after reading this, its going to be in your kitchen.

So what is our obsession with the Queen of the Vegetable Patch?

Starbucks has sold over 200 MILLION pumpkin spiced lattes in the last 10 years!

Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced each year in the United States and out of the total 1.5 billion pounds, over 800 million pumpkins are ripe for the picking in a single month of the year - October!

The Wolds largest pumpkin was more than five feet in diameter and weighed over 1,800 pounds.

Whilst most pumpkin "flavoured" treats out there should really only be enjoyed every now and again, pumpkin itself is full of health benefits, and tastes great!

FUN FACT - every single part of the pumpkin is edible - Yep, you can eat the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds and even the stem!

Pumpkins are 90% water - One cup of pumpkin only has 83 calories and only half a gram of fat. In comparison, the same serving size of sweet potato has triple the calories. They also have more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron.

So why should you be including this orange beauty in your diet?

1. It offers health-boosting antioxidants

Pumpkins are packed with carotenoids, helping to protect your cells against free radical damage. Like carrots, this orange fruit is rich in beta-carotene, as well as alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. After consuming beta-carotene, for instance, your body converts it into vitamin A, all while boosting overall immune function.

2. It protects your eyes

As mentioned, pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene and when consumed, you benefit from a safe source of vitamin A. In fact, when you consume just one cup of pumpkin, you benefit from nearly twice your recommended daily intake. This important vitamin helps to promote optimal vision health, reducing your risk of degenerative eye conditions, while also promoting healthy teeth and bones.

3. It boosts your fiber intake

Fiber is critical for optimal health, supporting normal bowel movements, blood sugar and even cholesterol levels. We all know fiber supports a healthy digestive system, but did you know it can also support your in your quest to be lean? When consuming a fiber-rich diet, you will curb hunger and avoid overeating.

4. It supports good heart health.

Aside from beneficial antioxidants and fiber, which both contribute to positive heart health, pumpkin seeds are packed with essential fats, phytosterols, magnesium and zinc. Within one study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers studied the effects of pumpkin seed oil on hypertension. Researchers concluded that pumpkin seed oil treatment not only normalized blood pressure levels but also protected the heart and aorta

5. It reduces inflammation

Offering anti-inflammatory benefits, pumpkin can help improve symptoms of arthritis. Whether you have a toothache or an inflamed throat, adding pumpkin to your regular diet can help reduce painful symptoms.

6. It boosts your magnesium consumption

It is estimated that up to 80 percent of people are not getting enough magnesium, a mineral that is used by every organ in your body. Although magnesium plays an essential role in bone and heart health, it is also found in more than 300 different enzymes. From producing energy to activating nerves and muscles, magnesium is essential. When consuming just one ounce of pumpkin seeds, you benefit from nearly 40 percent of your daily recommended intake.Considering a deficiency can lead to anything from anxiety disorders to osteoporosis, pumpkin seeds are an easy and effective way to ensure you’re getting enough.

7. It protects your prostate

Listen up boys - Using pumpkin seeds to treat an enlarged prostate and urinary tract complaints is an old remedy and it is one that is making a comeback. Many men over 50 suffer syptoms related to an enlarged prostate, it’s important to protect yourself when you’re young.

Based on their high concentration of phytosterols, it’s believed that these compounds can shrink the prostate. Pumpkin seeds also offer chemicals which prevent the transformation of testosterone into DHT, a hormone that is often associated with an enlarged prostate, as well as male pattern baldness.

8. It offers a source of healthy fats

You guys know by now that FATS are not the enemy. Right..........................? We’re living in a society where low- and zero-fat foods have taken over the supermarket shelves, leading to increased health issues. Your body and brain need fat in order to function. And when consuming pumpkin seeds, you benefit from the good kind — plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.

9. It is great post workout

For my fellow gym bunnies, pumpkin can help you recover after a sweaty sesh at the gym. Ever heard of bananas being touted as nature’s energy bar? Well, a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.

So now we have looked at the ways pumpkin can nourish your body - keep your eyes peeled for a pumpkin themed recipe post coming over the weekend............. YUM.


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