Fall is the time of year when you find pumpkin in everything from lattes to pies and bread. While many pumpkin treats are loaded with calories, there are also some delicious ways to take advantage of the health benefits of pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin spice.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Pumpkin?
A breakdown of the nutritional value of pumpkin shows that it provides a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients while remaining low in calories. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides the following:
• 49 calories
• 12 grams of carbohydrates
• 3 grams of fiber
• 2 grams of protein
• 49% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K
• 19% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C
• 16% of the recommended daily intake of potassium
Pumpkin is also rich in copper, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin E, iron, folate, and B complex vitamins. Pumpkin also contains beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Puree?
The following are just a few of the reasons why you should consider adding more pumpkin puree into your diet:
• The fiber in pumpkin will help you feel full for longer, which may help you lose weight.
• The combination of vitamin A and other nutrients can boost your immune system and help your body fight off infections.
• The antioxidants in pumpkin are good for heart, eye, and skin health.
• The beta-carotene in pumpkin can lower your risk of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms related to obesity that can increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are small but mighty in that they are packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. The following are a few of the benefits of pumpkin seeds:
• Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants that can protect your cells.
• Eating pumpkin seeds may reduce your risk of breast, prostate, lung, colon, and stomach cancer.
• Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which can lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk for heart disease, help you maintain healthy bones, and regulate your blood sugar levels.
• If you are trying to conceive, the zinc found in pumpkin seeds may improve sperm quality and fertility.
• Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, which may improve sleep quality when eaten as a snack before bed.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice?
If you have ever made a pumpkin pie, you probably have one or two bottles of pumpkin pie spice in your cupboard. Typically made from cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon, pumpkin spice benefits the body in a number of ways:
• The cloves found in pumpkin spice contain eugenol, which can help alleviate a toothache.
• The cinnamon found in pumpkin spice benefits the body by reducing inflammation that can cause joint and muscle pain and by stabilizing blood sugar levels.
• Nutmeg has antibacterial properties that can boost your immune system and even help prevent cavities.
• The ginger found in pumpkin spice promotes healthy blood flow and can even help settle an upset stomach.
What Are Some Healthy Uses of Pumpkin?
While delicious, sugary pumpkin-flavored drinks and cookies do not make the most of the nutritional value of pumpkin. The following are a few alternative uses of pumpkin that will allow you to enjoy both the flavor and health benefits of pumpkin puree and seeds:
• Reduce the calorie and fat content of your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe by replacing part of the cheese with pumpkin puree.
• Coat fish or meat with crushed pumpkin seeds instead of breadcrumbs.
• Add a couple of spoons of pumpkin puree into hummus for a protein-packed dip.
• When baking, substitute pumpkin puree for some of the oil in a 1:1 ratio.
• Substitute roasted pumpkin squash for potatoes as a low-calorie side dish. You can go simple with just salt, pepper, and a little oil or use your favorite Mexican or Indian spices for an international flair.
• You can use pumpkin puree and canned coconut milk to make a delicious base for an Indian curry.
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