by Christina Salina, MS, TTU Dietetic Intern
Few people think of pumpkins besides Halloween decorations and carvings or the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. However, it might be time to rethink this nutritious and delicious orange plant.
Pumpkin is considered a fruit that is rich in nutrients and has a wide range of fantastic health benefits. Beta-carotene is powerful antioxidant that is found in abundance with pumpkins and is also responsible for giving fruits their vibrant orange color. This antioxidant is converted into Vitamin A within the body. Consuming foods rich in beta carotene may prevent the development of certain types of cancer and protect against heart disease.
Another wonderful nutrient found in pumpkins is fiber! On average, an American diet includes about 15 grams of fiber while the daily recommendation is between 25 – 30 grams. Fiber can slow down the rate of sugar being absorbed in the blood and regulate bowel movements.
Here is the complete nutritional breakdown of one cup of cooked pumpkin:
- 2 g of protein
- 3 g of fiber
- 49 calories
- 200% of vitamin A
- 19% vitamin C
- 10% or more of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese
Preparing your own pumpkin will deliver most of these health benefits. However, canned pumpkin does retain nutrition well. Steer away from pumpkin pie mix as it contains added sugars and syrups.
REMEMBER: Canned pumpkin should contain only one ingredient: PUMPKIN.
Here are a few creative ways to include pumpkin in your diet:
- Dice pumpkin into cubes and roast it with other veggies such as Brussel sprouts, red onion, winter squashes etc.
- Mash boiled pumpkin into puree instead of mashed potatoes
- Mix pureed pumpkin into oatmeal or smoothies
- Roast pumpkin seeds for snacking
- Add cubed pumpkin to chili or soups
- Stuff mini pumpkins with a veggie rice mix
TRY this easy recipe for a yummy
Pumpkin Breakfast Bowl
that was created by Christina Salina, MS, TTU Dietetic Intern.