Fall’s Favorite Fruit Has Health Benefits
When the air turns chilly, everyone wants pumpkin. Pumpkin pies, beers and cakes are arguably the best part of Fall. Far more than just the best latte flavor, a well-placed jack o’ lantern was once said to keep spirits away from your home on Halloween. Okay, that’s debatable. More debatable than pumpkin being the best latte flavor, at least — that is a fact. What we can all agree on are the amazing health benefits of this big orange squash.
See in the dark
Whether you’re trying to see the best leaf colors or just watch a football game, pumpkin is great for your vision. One cup of pumpkin contains more than twice your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A, which is essential for eyesight, especially in the dark!
If you’re playing the football game, you’ll come home and want to refuel on potassium to avoid muscle cramps. While bananas aren’t exactly a warm and fuzzy Fall food, pumpkins sure are. A cup of cooked pumpkin beats bananas in the potassium department, so feel free to replace your potassium (and calories) with some savory pumpkin ravioli. Additionally, the fiber will keep you full longer if weight loss is your goal.
Carotenoids like beta-carotene are found in orange foods, and pumpkin is certainly a prettier color than carrot. According to the National Cancer Institute, the carotenoids in pumpkin can potentially prevent cancer. If “potentially” isn’t a good enough reason to add pumpkin to your diet, here’s another reason to have a slice of pumpkin pie — beta carotene keeps your skin elastic and youthful.
I know a few people who won’t do pumpkin prepared sweet or savory, but man, do they love salty, roasted, crunchy pumpkin seeds. Don’t get spooked — you’re still getting the benefits of the marvelous pumpkin! In addition to being great at reducing “bad” cholesterol like all nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds are high in tryptophan. Science seems to be debunking the idea that tryptophan makes you sleepy, but it is great for your serotonin levels. And who couldn’t use more serotonin? It’s the neurochemical responsible for keeping us happy.
For your dog, too!
After a brisk Autumn walk with your favorite pup, add a scoop of pumpkin puree to your dog’s food. Pumpkin is great for their digestion and the fatty acids give them a bright luster to their coat. Make sure that what you feed your dog is just pumpkin puree, however — the pie filling might make them happy, but it’s not good for them!
Health editor, Tini Howard is a writer, aerialist and foodie from the East Coast.