From your front porch to your favorite store, pumpkins pop up everywhere this time of year. While they're fun to carve, they're good to eat too!
"Pumpkin is such a healthy food for you," said Lindsay Malone, RD, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. "It's low in fat, high in fiber and rich in nutrients."
For the small amount of calories that come with eating it, you're getting an abundance of good vitamins and minerals.
It's good for your heart, eyesight, immune system and more.
- Eyesight and immune system. That's thanks to vitamin A, which is naturally packed into pumpkin. Eating a single (1 cup) serving of pumpkin can provide 200 percent of most people's recommended daily intake of the vital nutrient.
- Heart. Pumpkin's potassium and antioxidants can help prevent heart disease – as well as some cancers.
- Cholesterol. Plant sterols in pumpkin seeds can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. So can the omega 3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides (blood fats) and blood pressure.
- Weight. Pumpkin is easy on your waistline, with only 50 calories per cup. The same portion also provides 3 grams of fiber, which can keep you feeling fuller longer.
Pumpkins are loaded with superpower pigments called carotenoids, which are found in many red and orange foods. Carotenoids have been show
n to improve overall health including decreasing the overall risk for breast cancer.
These compounds function as anti-oxidants and help prevent damage to your healthy cells while repairing the damaged ones.
Malone says no matter which way you slice it, pumpkin packs a healthy punch.
"The meat of the pumpkin gives you more fiber, more carotenoids," Malone explained. "The seeds provide some fiber, some protein, and some healthy fats."
Studies show that pumpkin may have antimicrobial properties too. A 2009 study found that pumpkin rind proteins inhibit the growth of a fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections and diaper rash.