Pumpkin Is Fall’s Best Superfood — Here’s Why
When you head out for your basic-but-necessary pumpkin patch visit this year, snag a vibrant orange gourd for your front stoop and another one for your kitchen. Pumpkins aren’t just quintessential fall decorations — they’re also one of the healthiest pieces of produce you can get your hands on as autumn arrives. From the rind to the seeds, each part of the pumpkin can provide your body with some major health perks, and they’re surprisingly easy to integrate into your favorite recipes. Here are all of the reasons why pumpkin is considered the superfood of fall.
It’s one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is the organic compound responsible for giving pumpkin its bright orange glow, and it converts to vitamin A in the human body. This fat-soluble vitamin kicks your immune system into high gear, protects your eye health and can even help prevent coronary heart disease.
It’s full of potassium.
Believe it or not, a cup of cooked pumpkin has even more potassium than the beloved banana — 564 milligrams compared to a banana’s 422 milligrams. Potassium is not only super important for athletes working through recovery mode, but also for any human being trying to better balance their electrolyte levels.
Pumpkin seeds are pure, nutritional magic.
One ounce of raw pumpkin seeds (approximately 140 of them) provides your body with a hefty dose of protein, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Studies have found pumpkin seeds to be helpful in lowering a person’s risk of experiencing bladder stones, as well as preventing depression (thanks to their tryptophan content). Pumpkin seeds are also naturally rich in phytosterols, plant-based chemicals that help to reduce LDL cholesterol (the” bad” kind).
It’s loaded with vitamin K.
A standard, one-cup serving of canned pumpkin (that’s right, canned pumpkin) can provide you with 50 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, which is believed to help reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. So even when the fresh stuff is out of reach, you aren’t necessarily getting second-rate nutrition.
It can aid in weight loss.
Since pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food, providing your body with a ton of vitamins, minerals and fiber in fewer calories, you’re able to eat less, feel full for longer and reap more nutritional benefits in the process. Studies suggest eating foods like pumpkin can decrease your risk of becoming obese or developing diabetes or heart disease. Following a plant-based diet rich in foods like pumpkin can even help ward off premature death.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your fresh pumpkins before they’re gone!