Forget Halloween…It’s Pumpkin Season!
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of late autumn? For many kids across the globe, it means scary costumes and basket-loads of treats; for me, its pumpkins. Aside from their capacity to be carved and shaped into brilliant spooky decorations, pumpkins are incredibly versatile and packed with nutritional goodness. This winter squash, belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, is a healthy and wholesome addition to your meal plan as nights begin to draw in and the temperatures begin to drop.
Below I’ve outlined some of the surprising health benefits of pumpkins, as well as some of my favourite ways to incorporate them into my diet!
Boosting Your Immune System
Although commonly thought of as a vegetable, because it contains seeds, pumpkin is technically a fruit! That said, its nutritional content makes it more similar to a vegetable than a fruit. In fact, pumpkins are highly nutritious, and help towards maintaining a healthy diet, which in turn works towards boosting your immune system.
Pumpkins are especially rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A has been proven to strengthen your immune system and help your body to fight infections. Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which has been shown to increase white blood cell production, help immune cells work more effectively and make wounds heal faster.
Weight Loss Potential
Pumpkin, as well as being packed with essential vitamins and minerals, is actually 94% water! Depending on how you choose to prepare it, this makes pumpkin a weight-loss ‘friendly’ food because you can consume significantly more of it than other carb sources - such as potatoes and grains – but still intake fewer calories. In addition to this, pumpkin is high in fiber, which is known to help curb your appetite and therefore minimise the risk of being tempted by more indulgent festive snacks!
Good For Your Skin
This vitamin rich fruit, as well as being good for your immune system and weight loss, contributes to a healthy, glowing complexion. Pumpkin, as we know, is rich in vitamin C and the carotenoid Beta-carotene. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen, the protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. Simultaneously, beta-carotene, a natural antioxidant, has been found to protect our skin against sun damage and lower the risk of cancer, eye diseases and other conditions.
Delicious and Nutritious Recipes!
As well as their incredible health benefits, quite simply, pumpkins are delicious. Once you get through their tough exterior, there is a versatile and unusual fruit which works well in both savoury and sweet dishes of all kinds. For me, the easiest, and healthiest, way to enjoy pumpkin is to dice it, add a little oil, season and then roast them until soft – serve as a side to an equally tasty main meal! Don’t forget about the seeds either - the seeds are edible and packed with nutrients which offer many of their own benefits (prepare them in much the same way, maybe with a few chilli flakes to taste!). Below are a few other pumpkin recipes I would highly recommend:
• Pumpkin & Roast Almond Soup https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/m/pumpkin-roast-almondsoup.html
• Pumpkin Chilli – this is one of my own recipes, just swap the butternut squash for pumpkin!
• Pumpkin Pie… for something a little more indulgent. https://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/recipes/recipe_directory/p/pumpkin-pie.html
Nutritional Therapy in Manchester
Let pumpkin take centre stage this Halloween, and try new and fun ways to incorporate this food into your diet! If you’re interested in experimenting with this versatile, delicious and nutritious fruit, and need a little advice, get in touch today for a free 30 minute discovery call where we can discuss everything from pumpkins to your more specific dietary needs.