Fall has officially arrived and brings with it some of the best things in life: cooler weather, changing colors, and all things pumpkin! Everyone knows that pumpkins are great decorations and that they can be used in a variety of dishes to add a uniquely autumn flavor, but did you know that they also have many health benefits? Here are eight “secret” healthful perks of pumpkin:
1) Strengthen the immune system – pumpkin seeds contain high amounts of zinc and magnesium, which are two important minerals in fighting off infections.
2) Promote healthy cardiovascular function – omega-3 fatty acids found in pumpkins help reduce bad cholesterol, help protect blood vessels from damage, and reduce inflammation. In addition to these benefits, omega-3s and other healthful fats found in pumpkin provide a great source of energy that can give you a boost for your fall exercise routine!
3) Regulate blood sugar – pumpkins have a low glycemic load, meaning that the sugars in it are broken down slowly, preventing quick increases in blood sugar. Rapid increases in blood sugar cause the physiological changes that lead to type-2 diabetes. Pumpkin is a delicious, sweet-tasting and safe food for diabetics due to the low glycemic load.
4) Improve your vision – the orange hue of pumpkins is primarily due to beta-carotene, the same nutrient that is found in carrots. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the digestive tract which has many health benefits, including keeping your vision sharp so that you can enjoy the beautiful changes in leaves during the fall for a lifetime.
5) Weight management – pumpkins are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that they have a high nutritional value with a small caloric count. They are also high in fiber, keeping you feeling full and helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract.
6) Cancer prevention – most cancers are related to cell damage due to free radicals, which are byproducts of some biological processes that disrupt normal cell function and structure. Free radicals are fought in the body by antioxidants. Pumpkins contain lots of antioxidants that help protect our cells from the dangerous effects of free radicals.
7) Healthy skin – free radicals also damage the cells that make up the skin, leading to wrinkles and blemishes as we age. The antioxidants in pumpkins also help to fight these changes from taking place.
8) Speed up post-workout recovery – sweating while working out leads to a loss of important minerals known as electrolytes. Pumpkin is a great source of electrolytes, such as potassium, which help prevent cramping and fatigue that occur when the electrolyte concentration in the body is low.
We hope this information makes including pumpkin in your fall recipes that much more fun and enjoyable!