Fall is finally here and while pumpkin spice is all the rage this time of year, most of the processed pumpkin-flavored foods you find on grocery shelves don’t provide all the wonderful heart healthy benefits real pumpkin has to offer. Using real pumpkin – whether straight from the farm or out of a can – is a great way to get some tasty, heart-healthy flavor to spice up your fall diet.
Good for Your Body
Pumpkin is a very healthy food by all measures. Its low-calorie, nutrient-dense profile and adaptable taste make it a great way to incorporate the flavors of fall into your heart-healthy diet. Here are a few reasons to enjoy pumpkin:
#1 – It’s high in fiber.
High in fiber, fresh pumpkin contains 3 grams per cup and canned pumpkin contains 7 grams per cup. Fiber is beneficial in lowering cholesterol, and helps to keep you full longer, which can help with calorie control and ultimately weight control. It is also important for bowel regularity.
#2 – It’s low in calories.
Per cup, fresh pumpkin contains just 50 calories and the canned variety (which is more dense) contains 80. Foods that are low calorie and high fiber can help with weight control.
#3 – It keeps you hydrated.
Made of 90% water, pumpkin helps to keep you hydrated.
#4 – It’s rich in antioxidants.
Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of heart disease.
#5 – It’s good for blood pressure and hypertension.
Pumpkin is high in potassium, which is beneficial in people with elevated blood pressure and hypertension.
#6 – It’s high in vitamin C.
Pumpkin is high in Vitamin C, an antioxidant linked to reducing cardiovascular disease.
Cooking with Pumpkin
While botanically considered a fruit, pumpkins area winters squash and part of the gourd family. Originating in central America and Mexico, pumpkins have been growing in North America for more than 5,000 years.
While most people think of pumpkin as a fall or winter food, it’s great year-round. This hearty winter squash can be used in soups, chili, baking or by itself – and the seeds have a ton of great, nutty flavor.
While you can cut and roast your own pumpkin when they’re in season, most recipes taste just as great with organic, canned pumpkin. Just be sure to avoid pumpkin pie mix, which contains added sugar and/or syrups.
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About Coleen Hanson Smith
Coleen Hanson Smith is a freelance healthcare writer with 20 years of editorial, PR and marketing experience. She’s passionate about doing work that matters. As such, Coleen’s specialty areas are aligned with her personal passions which include: healthcare/hospital/physician practice/health & wellness; technology/B2B; parenting; and philanthropy/non-profit.