There’s so much to love about October: the brilliantly colored foliage, the crisp autumn air, and Halloween fun. But one of the best things about October is the bounty of nutritious and delicious seasonal produce. Apples, pomegranates, cranberries… what could be better?
But perhaps our ultimate fall favorite is pumpkin. Whether it’s sweet or savory, whipped up into soup or baked into bread, pumpkins are nutritional powerhouses, offering a multitude of health benefits.
Here are five reasons to enjoy pumpkins this autumn season, seeds and all:
Reduce your cancer risk: Pumpkins are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells against free radicals. Research shows that a diet rich in beta-carotene likely lowers the risk of many types of cancer.
Boost your immunity: Pumpkin packs nearly 20% of your daily-recommended amount of vitamin C! Combine that with the anti-viral properties of beta-carotene and you’ve got a valuable vegetable during the colder months when colds and flus run rampant. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with zinc, which helps optimize immune function.
Improve your vision: Beta-carotene is also essential for eye health, helping the retina to absorb and process light. In addition, pumpkin contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help to prevent cataracts.
Lift your mood: Pumpkin seeds are packed with L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that builds serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
Protect your heart: Pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium, which helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent stroke, and are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which also may improve cardiovascular health.
Promotes weight loss: Pumpkin is low in calories but high in fiber, which helps to promote a feeling of fullness, slows down digestion, and keeps your blood sugar levels stable, preventing crashes that tend to contribute to overeating. (The exception here, of course, is sugar-laden pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin pie!)
Want a delicious and healthy way to enjoy pumpkin? Try this delicious Triple Squash Soup from our new blog Integrative Nutrition Recipes!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? Do you have a favorite recipe? We’d love to hear – share it in the comments below!