We’ll take pumpkin in any form, from sweet spiced desserts to savory salads, coffee, cocktails, even casseroles. It’s one of our favorite fall foods that we’d gladly eat year-round. Why? Pumpkin is a delicious, affordable, and versatile ingredient. It’s also incredibly healthy.
“Pumpkin is bursting with health benefits beyond what you might think!” Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, author of Once Upon a Pumpkin. It comes in at around 50 calories per cup and packs Vitamin E, C, A, potassium, and fiber. Pumpkin puree can even double as a butter, oil, and egg replacer when modifying recipes for dietary restrictions. “Simply sub one quarter cup for one egg in baked goods,” Michalczyk recommends.
Here’s what else you’ll reap when relishing fall’s most festive superfood.
Pumpkin packs plenty of antioxidants, including beta-carotene (which gives pumpkins their orange hue), alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. All of these help to neutralize free-radicals in your body, which keeps from damaging your cells and may offer strong cancer-fighting properties, too.
We know that vitamin C also helps to strengthen the immune system (it encourages white blood cell production), and since the cold and flu season ramps up in the fall, there's even more reason to add more pumpkin into your diet. Also, beta-carotene gets converted into vitamin A in the body, and studies have also shown that vitamin A helps strengthen your body’s immune system and fight infections.
“Vitamin A is very important for eye health and lowering your risk of sight loss,” Michalczyk says. Pumpkin is also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are very important for the health of our eyes and may reduce the risk for macular degeneration and cataracts.
Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve heart health, including fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. The antioxidants in pumpkin may also prevent LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ kind) from oxidizing in the body, which lowers your risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that beta-carotene acts as a natural sunblock. The antioxidants in pumpkin are also good for skin texture and appearance, which is especially great in the fall when temps start to dip. The vitamin C in pumpkin helps to stimulate collagen production in the skin, too.
Whatever you do, don’t toss those pumpkin seeds: they’re a good source of protein, iron, magnesium and fiber. “Think outside the box this fall by roasting your pumpkin seeds with turmeric and black pepper or matcha powder and coconut flakes,” Michalczyk says. Pair your snack with a TAZO Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea latté—pure pumpkin bliss.
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