Pumpkins have always been a huge part of the fall season, most often in the form of a festive jack-o'-lantern. But before you let all your pumpkins wilt away on your front doorstep, we'd like to remind you that they are also packed with plenty of health benefits. Pumpkin soup, anyone?
Like carrots, the pumpkin's bright orange color comes from being chock full of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that’s converted to vitamin A in our bodies. According to the University of Iowa, foods rich in beta-carotenes have shown signs of reducing the risk of cancer, help to protect against heart disease, and even ward off mental degeneration as we age. One cup of mashed pumpkin contains a whopping 245 percent of our recommended daily amount of vitamin A, making it a great option for people who don’t like carrots but still want a boost of beta-carotene.
Another heart healthy aspect of pumpkins is their high level of potassium, with roughly 16 percent of the daily recommended amount in just one cup. A 2017 study from the International Journal of Cardiology found that increased potassium intake was beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Before that, a 2016 study from the Journal of the American Heart Association claimed extra potassium can help prevent the risk of strokes.
Pumpkins also happen to be an excellent option for anyone following a ketogenic diet. One cup of pumpkin contains just 12 grams of carbs, plus two grams each of fiber and protein. For those simply trying to watch their calorie intake, you’ll be glad to know that a cup of pumpkin has only 49 calories.
Clearly, there’s a lot more to pumpkins than meets the eye! We’d like to say this means you can feel totally guilt-free about going back for a second (or third) slice of pumpkin pie around the holidays, but there is still the high sugar factor to keep in mind. On the other hand, chopping up the fresh gourd and mashing it or roasting the slices for a side dish all season long is definitely a scrumptious way to give yourself some seriously healthy benefits. (Psst: Click here for a scrumptious recipe to get you started.)
Sounds like it’s about time for another family trip to the local pumpkin patch to stock up on more of this amazing autumn treat!