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It’s that time of year for pumpkin everything! Very few things bring to mind autumn more than the flavor of pumpkin. And while we are indulging in one of our favorite fall flavors, we can enjoy pumpkin as more than just a sign of the season. People forget that pumpkin is a fruit, which provides many health benefits for your heart, vision and waistline. Surprised? Read on to learn more!
Pumpkins Help Eyesight: Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. In fact, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin A aids vision, especially in dim light. The vibrant orange color of pumpkins is not just for the fall color scheme. That orange color comes from the carotenoids it contains, including beta-carotene, which the body changes into a form of vitamin A for additional eye protection. Pumpkins also contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that help prevent cataracts and may slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Pumpkins Assist Weight Loss: Pumpkins contain seven grams of fiber per one cup serving, and a fiber-rich diet helps you eat less by keeping you feeling fuller longer. And since canned pumpkin is nearly 90 percent water, there’s also only 49 calories in a one-cup serving. Your body is able to stay fuller longer on fewer calories, helping you eat less and lose weight in a healthy way.
Pumpkins Support Heart Health: Pumpkin is rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C which all support our heart health. Eating potassium rich foods help our bodies treat hypertension. In fact, it’s almost as important as decreasing the intake of sodium to lower blood pressure. The seeds of a pumpkin are naturally rich in phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Pumpkins Boost The Immune System: Beta-carotene and vitamin C, a powerful combination found in pumpkin, have been shown to boost immunity and conquer colds faster. The vitamin A provided in pumpkin helps your body fight infections, viruses and infectious diseases. Tired of oranges? Pumpkin might be a good option for you!
Pumpkins Lower Cancer Risk: Research shows that people who eat a beta-carotene rich diet have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer. The vitamins A and C found in pumpkin also defend your body against cancer-causing free radicals. In addition, the plant sterols in pumpkin seeds have shown evidence of fighting off certain cancers.
If the only thing you’ve done with a pumpkin is carve it, you’re missing out on the numerous health benefits of this fruit. It’s an extremely nutrient-dense food that is good for your vision, weight loss and other health advantages. Pumpkins aren’t just decorations or a sign of the season. This signature squash can be incorporated into your diet in so many ways. Dessert, drinks, soups and even entrees can highlight this amazing orange fruit. Pumpkin everything — maybe we’re really onto something, and not just for fall!
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