By Ann Pantazis, MS, RD, LDN, CDE – Manager of Nutrition and Endocrinology
Pumpkins are especially popular around this time of year, but did you know that there’s more to these fall favorites than just jack-o-lanterns and the delicious filling of a Thanksgiving pie?
This seasonal fruit packs a nutritional punch and offers several health benefits, including the following:
- Healthier Eyes – The same ingredient, beta-carotene, that gives pumpkins their bright orange color also does wonders for your eyes. Once eaten, the beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which contributes to overall eye health. An added benefit, pumpkins contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to a lower risk of developing macular degeneration.
- Rich in Fiber – Pumpkins are low-calorie foods and an excellent source of fiber. There are three grams of fiber and just 50 calories in every cup of cooked pumpkin. Eating a serving of fiber-rich pumpkin can help you feel fuller and eat less.
- Better Vascular Health – Scientists know that potassium found in pumpkins may help lower blood pressure, a heart health bonus. And while enjoying pumpkin, don’t discard those pumpkin seeds! The phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds may help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
While pumpkin is an incredibly healthy food, it’s important to be mindful of desserts and drinks made with pumpkin. These tend to be high in calories so watch your portions. Add this superfood to your diet in healthy ways by roasting with cinnamon and olive oil, or sprinkling pumpkin seeds on your salad for a tasty crunch.
So instead of just using pumpkins as your Halloween decorations this year, be sure to put them on the menu and enjoy all the amazing health benefits!