When most of think of pumpkins, we think Jack-o-lanterns, and fall decorations. There are many different types of squashes available today…all sizes, shapes, and textures! All have are edible sweet soft meat that ranges from pale yellow to brilliant, bright orange. Most winter squashes can be interchanged with pumpkin and used in place of pumpkin in many recipes. The sweet taste and creamy texture make delicious pies, cakes, puddings, and many savory dishes, AND provide much needed nutrients and heal benefits! Caution: There are decorative gourds that are inedible. Just ask, if you are uncertain.
Health Benefits –Pumpkins are rich in many vitamins and minerals, some of which are: Vitamin A, potassium B vitamins, and fiber, iron, omega 3’s which are anti-inflammatory. Just some of the benefits of eating pumpkin and winters squashes are:
- Sharper vision – Vitamin A is essential for eye health, and pumpkins’ brilliant orange coloring supplies beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Pumpkins are also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that help prevent cataracts, and sow the development of macular degeneration.
- Weight loss – Pumpkin contains seven grams of fiber per cup which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer. Pumpkin is also low in calories, only 50 calories per serving. So enjoy your pumpkin pie!
- Younger-looking skin –Consuming pumpkin and orange colored fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene can help protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays. You can also use the pulp to make a great, all-natural facial mask that soothes and exfoliates. Just mix ¼ cup pureed pumpkin, one egg, one tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of milk. Apply, wait for 20 minutes or so and wash it off with warm water.
- Lower Cancer risk – Studies show that people who consume a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, especially prostrate and lung cancer. Vitamins A and C are both anti-oxidants and protect cells against damaging free radicals.
So eat up and enjoy the season of fresh whole pumpkin and winter squashes. And don’t be afraid to cook the pumpkin and use the meat in various recipes.