As we stumble into one of my favorite celebrations – Halloween, stores all over the world are lined with Jack O’ Lanterns and the humble pumpkin is now ubiquitous. As potential revellers plan their costumes and sharpen their pumpkin carving skills, we re-discover the much overlooked health benefits of this widely available vegetable.
So what’s so good about this humble vegetable you ask?
Well, pumpkins are rich in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins C and E, iron, potassium, Omega 3 and other minerals. And they’re low in calories, with just 26 cal for every 100 gms. Perfect for the health freaks out there! They get their bright orange colour from the presence of cartenoids (a type of antioxidant) which helps prevent premature aging and cardiovascular diseases. They are also a great source of Vitamin A, required to promote eye health and boost immunity. Need more reasons?
OK so here goes – pumpkins are a great beauty aid too, as the high vitamin A, C, E and zinc content keep the skin hydrated, healthy and glowing. Its a natural diuretic and flushes out body toxins, making it a good choice if you’re planning a detox.
It is also one of the more versatile vegetables, lending itself to both sweet and savoury dishes. When it comes to pumpkin, you’re spoilt for choice. It also makes for excellent soup, savoury mains and just-that-right-level-of-sweet dessert.
So you could start your meal with pumpkin soup. Or if you prefer a main course, try lasagna with pumpkin, pumpkin risotto, stuffed pumpkin or pumpkin ravioli. Or you could satisfy your sweet craving while loading on nutrients – try pumpkin muffins, cupcakes, cookies, bread or that old favourite; pumpkin pie.
If none of these work, try a pumpkin fortified muesli bar just after a workout, its an instant energy booster.
It doesn’t end there. Pumpkin seeds are now a popular ingredient in several mixed breakfast cereals like multigrain oats or muesli and are frequently cited as a “powerfood”. These seeds are an excellent source of minerals like phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, vitamin K, E and B Group. 100 gms of seeds provide 30 gms of protein. Phew!
So change your life, one food ingredient at a time.
Pumpkin Fun Facts:
- Pumpkins grow all over the world, including in Alaska – the only continent they don’t grow in is Antarctica.
- Pumpkins are 90% water.
- Early settlers in the US removed pumpkin seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.
- There’s an ongoing debate about whether the pumpkin is a vegetable….or a fruit !
Check out these additional sources for healthy pumpkin recipes or more nutritional information and health benefits of this power food:
So if you feel the same way I do about pumpkins then please share your thoughts.
Happy Halloween everybody!!!!