Ah, finally – fall has arrived after a very long, hot summer! Pumpkins, in various forms, are appearing on grocery shelves, farmers markets, produce stands, etc. Outside of carving them for Halloween, and eating them in the form of pies, what do we really know about them?
Here are some interesting nutrition facts – one cup of cubed pumpkin only has 30 calories, but it does have 8 grams of total carbs, and only 0.6 grams of fiber. Within those 8 grams of carbs are 3.2 grams of sugar. While it may not be the best choice for a very low carbohydrate diet plan, it certainly is not something to avoid entirely.
Pumpkin contains vitamins A, C, D, B6 and B12, as well as calcium, iron, and magnesium, making it is a good antioxidant. Not bad! It may be good for one’s eyes, in that it has vitamin A, but is also a good source of carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Zeaxanthin may offer some protection against age-related macular disease in the aging population (hello baby boomers).
Pumpkin seeds contain dietary fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids, known for assisting in heart repair. The seeds are also a decent source of protein and contain no cholesterol (for those of you who have too much).
Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, an amino acid also found in turkey and helps to make us sleepy! Does this make it a good bedtime snack? Try it out.
Pumpkin may help us fight bacterial infections. The vitamin A may also protect our skin, especially from wrinkles! The carotenoids assist in neutralizing free radicals in our skin, thus slowing down the aging process a little. The pulp of the pumpkin has the antioxidants, so if you are carving a pumpkin for decoration, keep the pulp and add it to soups, stews, or make pie filling, etc.
Try not to eat too many grains and sugars this holiday season – but definitely consider including pumpkin in some form.
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Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.