The Magic of Pumpkins

NUTRITION TIP THURSDAY

This week’s nutrition tips are brought to you by LifeStart dietitian, Grace Iberle.

The reason pumpkins are bright orange is due to carotenoids. Pumpkins are a great source of both alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. The body converts them to vitamin A and utilizes them in many different ways. They work with other nutrients to provide lots of health benefits.

The nutrients in pumpkins:

Fight cardiovascular disease: carotenoids prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which is what builds up and can block blood vessels. Carotenoids, potassium, magnesium, and folate work together to help prevent heart disease

Prevent various cancers (especially lung): the carotenoids in pumpkins have been shown to help lower risk of developing lung cancer

Help vision: great source of beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, helping our eye health

Slow the aging process: carotenoids in the pumpkins help to protect their skin as well as ours

Boost the immune system: vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E all help to with immunity

Aid digestion: loaded with lots of fiber to help our digestive tract run smoothly

Assist in weight loss and maintenance: the fiber helps to keep you feeling full, while being low in calories - only 49 per cup!

Here are some ways to add more pumpkin to your daily routine:

  • Mix pumpkin puree into oatmeal or Greek yogurt
  • Stir into soup, stew, or chili
  • Substitute for a portion of oil in bread and muffin
  • Add to smoothies
  • Roast the seeds and try out different seasonings
    • Drizzle clean and dry seeds with olive oil, bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes, rotate baking sheet half way, and watch until they are the perfect golden brown
    • Seasoning Options: Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt-free all purpose seasonings. Be creative!
    • Use seeds to top salads or grab a handful as a snack

How to acquire fresh pumpkin:

  1. Clean out a small pumpkin
  2. Place in the microwave for about 6 minutes to soften
  3. Easily scoop out the inside