It’s the pumpkin-spiced everything season, and there’s some beneficial health value in getting more involved with this unassuming fruit this year in greater ways than just carving one up for Hallowe’en…
Five Health Benefits of Pumpkin include:
- Immune System
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 245% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A. It’s also a great source of beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.
Vitamin A is important for strengthening your immune system. Research has also found those will low levels of vitamin A tend to have weaker immune systems. Check out this 2015 study for more. Further, it’s also a good source of vitamin C, which, among other things, is an important vitamin for increasing your white blood cell production—another key to a strong immune system.
- Heart Health
If you don’t like bananas, pumpkin is another great source of potassium, which is helpful for the heart. Specifically, those with higher potassium intake have lower blood pressure and are at a reduced risk of having a stroke. Read the Meta-Analysis here.
- Eye Health
If you have never heard of lutein or zeaxanthin, I admit I hadn’t either. They are two compounds linked to lowering the risk of age-related eye problems, eyesight loss and cataracts. And they are found in high levels in pumpkin.
- Weight Loss?!
Pumpkin has fewer than 50 calories per cup, as 94 percent of it is just water. Check out its full nutrient profile here.
This means you can consume more pumpkin than other carbs, such as potatoes, yet feel satiated. On top of this, it has lots of fibre, so some consider is a great food for weight loss.
- Skin Health
It’s also high in carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which is believed to act as a natural sunblock. Sounds kind of strange, but essentially when you eat it, the carotenoids get transported to various organs, including the skin. When in the skin, they help protect against UV rays from the sun. Don’t believe me? Read more in this study.
If nothing else, it’s high in vitamin C, a vitamin that promotes healthy skin, as your body needs it to make collagen, a protein that keeps the skin (and bones) strong and healthy.
On top of this, it’s incredibly culinarily versatile and can be substituted in many delicious dishes—both savoury and sweet—for less healthy products like wheat flour and highly dense carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, corn)
Note: If you buy canned pumpkin, DO NOT buy 'Pumpkin Pie Mix' as it is loaded with extra refined sugar.
Here are some recipe ideas:
Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes (if you know me, you know I love my pancakes!)
Pancake Mix ingredients:
- 4 Eggs
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 4 Tbsp. coconut flour
- 2 Tbsp. butter, ghee or coconut oil
- 1 Tsp. Vanilla
- 1/2 Tsp baking soda
- Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Proceed as always with pancake making. *NOTE* cooking with coconut flour they will take longer to cook than a 'typical pancake' so be patient :)
Simple Roasted Pumpkin
- Sliced Pumpkin, 1/4" to 3/8" thick, leave the skin on
- Olive Oil
- Honey, Maple Syrup or Agave (or coconut sugar)
- Pumpkin Spice (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves)
Slice pumpkin into slices as directed and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 1/2 - 1 tbsp of Olive Oil and 1 tbsp of Honey or Syrup over pumpkin slices. Sprinkle generously with pumpkin spice and then finish with some salt. Use your hands and toss the slices all together so they are all evenly coated and spread evenly on the tray. Roast at 400F for approximately 20 minutes turning at minute 10-12 (once they start to sweat and brown).
Pumpkin Soup topped with Roasted Pumpkin seeds that only takes 30 minutes
- 4 cups pumpkin
- 1 onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt, pepper, cinnamon to taste
- Optional: 1 sweet potato
- Butter for frying the onion
- 1 Cup coconut milk, coconut cream or heavy cream
Sautee the onion and garlic in butter (or ghee) until soft. Add chicken broth, water and bring to a boil. Add pumpkin and sweet potato. Cook until soft. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Put back in the pot and add salt, pepper, cinnamon and coconut milk or heavy cream.
Top with roasted pumpkin seeds!
Healthy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 2 tsp.pumpkin pie spice (or make it yourself with 1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 5 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (or use a banana as a sweetener)
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
- Mix dry ingredients
- In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, butter or coconut oil and honey/maple syrup
- Put wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until smooth
- Spoon into a muffin tin
- Bake at 350 to 375 F for 20-25 minutes
What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? Add your recipe to comments.