​The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

It’s that time of year where everything is pumpkin. I love the coolness that fall brings, how this time of year seems to slow everything down, and, of course, the tasty fall treats such as pumpkin. Even my local Trader Joe’s has pumpkin doggy treats that smell so good. One smell of those, and I am tempted to try one myself… that is if my dog, Riley, would even allow it!

With the change in seasons, let’s take a moment to appreciate the healthy benefits of this brightly colored orange vegetable. Just one cup of mashed pumpkin delivers 564 mg of potassium – 33% more than a banana. Potassium works with sodium to help maintain our body’s water balance. Low potassium can cause occasional muscle cramps, so for athletes, it’s a good idea to keep a can of pumpkin in your pantry. You can add pumpkin to smoothies, serve it as a vegetable side, or even make hummus. Other ways to use this healthy vegetable are to stir it in oatmeal, fill ravioli, and add it to soups and stews for an earthy undertone.

Pumpkin has no saturated fat or cholesterol and is rich in fiber. For those that think we can only get fiber from grains, take a look at the nutritional profile of pumpkin. When comparing 1 cup of pumpkin to cereal, on average, cereal delivers around 3 grams of fiber, while 1 cup of pumpkin delivers an impressive 7 grams. Pumpkin also contains many antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E. And, pumpkin is low in calories coming in at 49 calories for 1 cup.

Pumpkin is also a rich source of copper, calcium, and phosphorus and is a good source of all of the B vitamins.

This gem of a vegetable keeps on giving. It is also an excellent source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that support healthy eyes.

Try this smoothie for breakfast, post workout, or just as a treat!

 

PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:
½ cup of pumpkin Puree
½ cup of milk or milk substitute
½ cup of crushed ice
6 oz. of plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
½ tsp. of cinnamon
1 packet of stevia (½ tsp. of stevia powder or ¼ tsp. of stevia liquid)

 

Preparation:
Blend all ingredients until smooth. For a lower calorie and lower fat version, use low fat milk and yogurt.