Looks like fall has finally arrived, my favorite time of the year. Not only because of the beautiful changing leaves, lovely weather, and not to mention football season, but because of all the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are in season such as sweet potatoes, squash, apples, various greens, and of course pumpkins! Because pumpkins are one of the staple fruits of fall, let’s dig into its nutritional benefits.
Pumpkins, also known as the squash fruit, are exceptionally high in antioxidant vitamins. A five pound pumpkin contains about 314% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin A! Benefits of vitamin A include good vision, healthy skin, well developed teeth and bones, and protection from the daily toxic damage of oxidation. It also provides the body with other antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, which assist in lowering the risk of cancer, prevention of colds or infections, and protection from free radical damage to cells.
It is a great source of minerals such as calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus. Benefits of calcium include maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Copper aids in proper growth of the body and health of connective tissues, hair, and eyes. Potassium is essential for maintenance of blood pressure and renal function. Finally, phosphorus is also beneficial in healthy bone and teeth formation, as well as energy production from proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
We can also find many of pumpkin’s health benefits in just its seeds. According to “The World’s Healthiest Foods” online, pumpkin seeds are high in several nutrients such as manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, protein, zinc, and iron. The seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which allows one to feel full faster and aids in digestion. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that promotes good heart health and regulates cholesterol levels.
So, make sure to take out your favorite pumpkin pie or pumpkin bar recipe and get to baking! And don’t forget to make full use of the entire pumpkin. With the leftover pumpkin seeds, pop them into the oven to be roasted. Simply toss the seeds in a bowl with some melted butter and a little bit of salt, spread them out on a baking sheet, stick them into a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes and they are done. There are several recipes to include this nutritious, fall fruit! Now get to experimenting!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and we hope to see you on our final market day of the season this Thursday!
– Sarah De Ocampo, Food and Nutrition Associate