It's pumpkin season! (But I'm sure you already know this from the inescapable presence of pumpkin spice everything.) Growing up, pumpkins were for carving or for pie. Besides the odd attempt to roast pumpkin seeds, we never really used them for anything else. So I thought I would look into what pumpkin is actually good for and the list left me pleasantly surprised.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PUMPKINS
Blood pressure can be positively effected by the potassium and dietary fiber in pumpkins.
Pumpkin contains several antioxidant vitamins like vitamin A, C, and E. Antioxidants prevent cell damage from oxidants, a.k.a. free radicals, with no side effects. However, experts recommend getting our antioxidants from natural sources because having too many antioxidants suppress your body's natural ability to turn on its defense system against oxidants.
For those of you approaching you senior years, zea-xanthin is another natural antioxidant in pumpkins that can help filter UV rays in the macula lutea (which are in our retinas.) So eating pumpkin may offer some protection from "age-related macular disease" (ARMD) in the older adults. ARMD is the most common form of blindness that currently cannot be treated.
For expecting mothers, pumpkin is a good source of folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid; which are good for your growing little one!
Pumpkins are a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Your bones are made of more than just calcium, and minerals are good for both your bones and for producing electrolytes.
Uncut pumpkins can last for two months if they are stored in a cool, dark place.
Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin can be used as a replacement for butter or oil in baking recipes.
If you want the health benefits of pumpkin, avoid canned pumpkin pie mix because it usually contains added sugars and syrups.
It turns out pumpkins possibly have a lot of benefits for people of all ages and with certain health needs. If you'd like to try cooking with pumpkin but find buying or working on one a little intimidating, start with pumpkin puree. If you really enjoy what you've made then maybe try out working on fresh pumpkin yourself!