SIx reasons to add pumpkin to your diet year round.
Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin harvesting; nearly twice as many pumpkin acres are in Illinois than any other state at nearly 11,000 acres. Almost 80% of pumpkin acres in the state are devoted to pie filling or other processing uses, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
The medicinal properties of pumpkin include anti-diabetic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
HSHS St. Mary's, carved out a little time to share more about the health benefits of this popular fruit:
- Pumpkin is good for your heart. It contains heart healthy vitamin C, which helps prevent coronary artery disease and aids in strengthening blood vessel walls. The fiber in a pumpkin protects your heart with its ability to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Pumpkin protects your skin. Carotenoids found in pumpkin may not only keep cancer cells at bay but may also keep your skin wrinkle-free.
- Pumpkin is high in potassium. This mineral keeps your muscles, nerves and heart working well and is important for digestive and bone health. One cup of pumpkin contains 564 milligrams of potassium, which is more than a banana.
- Pumpkin is low in calories and high in fiber. One cup of fresh pumpkin has only 49 calories, but three grams of fiber. Fiber keeps you feeling full, helps control blood sugar levels, aids in achieving healthy weight and helps maintain good bowel health.
- Pumpkin is high in vitamin A. A one-cup serving of pumpkin has 250% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, which can improve our eye health and our immune system.
- Pumpkin seeds may improve your mood. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten fresh or roasted, and like fresh or canned pumpkin, the seeds contain beneficial substances, including:
- Tryptophan (an amino acid): important in the production of serotonin, which helps reduce depression and regulate anxiety.
- Phytosterols (plant-based substances): reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol”.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: important for heart and liver health.
- Magnesium: reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, especially in older populations.