This post is by “virtual intern” Rachael Link. Read more about Rachael below.
By now you’ve likely noticed that it’s the time of year that all things pumpkin-flavored begin flooding restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.? If it seems like there are more pumpkin-flavored lattes, cupcakes, and breads hitting the shelves this year, it’s because there are. According to Nielsen, ,pumpkin-flavored products in the US have grown 19% last year and they’re already up 28% so far this year! While loading up on the pumpkin treats may not be the best idea, you don’t have to give up on all things pumpkin altogether. In fact, pumpkins are known to have many different health benefits. Here are five of the many positive effects of pumpkins.
1. Fiber: With nearly 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories in a cup, pumpkin can help lower cholesterol, regulate bowel movements, and improve blood sugar levels.
2. Soothing Arthritis: Pumpkins are filled with antioxidants, which have actually been shown to ease inflammation from arthritis.
3. Increasing Bone Density: Pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. ¼ of a cup of pumpkin seeds provides almost half of the magnesium needed in a day! Magnesium has been linked to an increase in bone density, which can prevent the development of conditions like osteoporosis.
4. Mood Enhancing: In addition to providing tons of vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds provide over half of the daily recommended amount of tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps improve mood and relieve anxiety.
5. Reducing Cancer Risk: Pumpkins are full of beta-carotene, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Beta-carotene, an antioxidant, works by protecting cells from free radicals, which contribute to cancer along with many other chronic diseases.
As you can see, pumpkins have many more uses than just holiday décor. So go ahead and indulge in a few of your favorite pumpkin treats this season!
Pumpkin Kale Hummus (inspired by this recipe from The Road Unprocessed)
1 cup cooked/drained garbanzo beans
1 cup baked pumpkin
¾ cup-1 cup packed kale leaves
4-5 fresh garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon juice
2-6 tbsp water from pot of boiled garbanzo beans
2-3 tbsp tahini
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it reaches the desired texture. Enjoy plain or with some chips, crackers, vegetables, or on a sandwich!
About Rachael Link: Growing up with a military family and moving all around the world fostered my passion for all things food, cooking, and nutrition. Since adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, I’ve been eager to share the benefits of adding more vegetables to the diet with everyone around me. I’m currently studying Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and I’m on my way to becoming a registered dietitian.