Pumpkin: More Than Just a Pretty Face

With Halloween fast approaching at the end of this week, pumpkins are everywhere, and especially around this time of year, pumpkins make most people think “Jack-o’-lantern!” Yet if the only thing you’ve ever done with a pumpkin is carve out a spooky face and leave it on your front stoop for decoration, you’re really missing out. This beauty of a squash is good for a whole lot more than a festive decoration.

The deep, rich color of cooked pumpkin is a dead giveaway that it’s chock-full of good nutrition. The bright orange color is derived from carotenoids like beta-carotene. This converts into a form of vitamin A in the body, which is essential for vision health. In fact, a single cup of cooked pumpkin provides you with 200 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A intake. If you start including this vegetable in your menu plan, your eyes will thank you.

The nutritional goodness found in pumpkins doesn’t stop there. In addition to all that vitamin A, here’s just a sampling of the other nutrients you’re giving your body:

  • Vitamin E
  • Potassium
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese

If you cringe at the idea of forcing down an orange blob of pumpkin , have no fear. It’s one of those versatile veggies that can go from pumpkin waffles to pumpkin risotto in a single gourd. Once you learn what kind of pumpkins to pick up for cooking and how easy it is to roast them, you’ll look forward to this time of year for a whole different reason. You can also freeze any pumpkin you don’t need right away. What a treat in the middle of winter!

Be sure not to throw away the seeds you scooped out of the center either. Pumpkin seeds make a great snack and offer up nutritional benefits in the form of zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, and a wide variety of vitamin E. They’re also revered for their anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Some research has even shown that pumpkin seeds may play a role in reducing the risk of cancer. Here’s how to roast the seeds you pull from your very own pumpkin.

The next time you plan on carving a lovely, Halloweeny face in a pumpkin, be sure to pick up a couple for eating as well. You won’t be sorry.

Send us your favorite pumpkin recipe!

Photo from iStock/NiDerLander

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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