With fall coming right around the corner, pumpkin everything is filling grocery store shelves! Although pumpkin-flavors may taste great to most of us, the actual vegetable is packed with so many nutrients that it’s easy to add it to almost any recipe for a nutritional boost. The 3 best reasons to eat pumpkin might surprise you:
- It Can Improve Skin. Pumpkin is full of a carotenoid called beta-carotene that gives it that orange hue. Beta-carotene (a provitamin) breaks down into vitamin A in the body. One-half cup of pure pumpkin puree packs 250% of RDI (recommended daily intake). Vitamin A is often used for numerous skin conditions like acne and anti-aging as it affects cell growth and maturation. Some studies suggest that the antioxidant properties from vitamin A can protect the skin from oxidative stress and may even affect sebum production,which makes the skin oily and can cause acne.
- It Can Improve Blood Pressure. Pumpkin is a good source of potassium, an important electrolyte that can affect sodium levels in the body. When you increase your intake of potassium you eliminate sodium at the cellular level. This is particularly beneficial to those with high blood pressure or those who need to reduce sodium in their diet. A half-cup serving of canned pumpkin contains 250 mgs of potassium that will do the body good.
- Improves Heart Health. In addition to the fiber content of pure pumpkin that can lower cholesterol levels, pumpkin seeds are also nutritionally dense and include a high content of plant sterols. Sterols are similar in structure to cholesterol but they serve as protecting agents against heart disease and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). Plus the seeds themselves are super high in iron, selenium, and zinc which are also known to fight against anemia and colds.
Want to know how to add more pumpkin to your diet? Use pumpkin purees in oats or smoothies with a dash of pumpkin spice for a healthier fall meal. Or take roasted dried pumpkin seeds as a salad topper or snack paired with dried or fresh fruits. Pump up your fall recipes with some pumpkin!