It's Pumpkin Time
It’s getting cooler outside, the trees are changing colors and pumpkin spice lattes are back
Written by Ashley Larson, MS, RD, LMNT Bryan LifePointe dietitian
Without having to look at a calendar, you know that means fall is here! I personally love this time of year because it’s beautiful weather to be outside for a walk or run, and it’s time for “fall foods”!! Fall foods can include pumpkin, apples, soups and more. Whatever the foods, there’s a chance to get great nutrition benefits from it.
There’s been a lot of hype over the past few years about pumpkin, and not just to use as Jack-OLanterns. Are stores and restaurants just using the season to make more money? Well, actually, there really is something more to it! Pumpkin has numerous health benefits and can be a great meal entrée or even just a snack.
One of the major benefits of pumpkin is that it’s low calorie! Half a cup of pumpkin has about 40 calories and you can use it to help control calorie intake and manage weight. Pumpkin is also hearthealthy, free of cholesterol and saturated-fat. It’s also rich in fiber and many anti-oxidants that can help fight off diseases.
Plus, pumpkin is very rich in vitamins and minerals. This “power food” contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Vitamin A is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Minerals included in pumpkin include calcium, potassium, copper and phosphorus.
And don’t forget about the pumpkin seeds! The seeds in a pumpkin can provide dietary fiber and a healthy fat (mono-unsaturated fats) that’s good for our hearts. They also contain protein and healthbenefiting vitamins and minerals. You can bake the seeds in the oven for a delicious, healthy snack!
Now that you know the major benefits of pumpkin, I encourage you to be creative and find new ways to use it! One of my favorites is adding it to a smoothie with a banana, ice and skim milk. It’s a great start to your day and you can be sure you’re getting great health benefits from your breakfast!
Pumpkin Warning: Most baked pumpkin items can contain large amounts of sugar, fat and calories! So always look at the ingredient list to see what’s in the product you are eating, or make it yourself so you can modify the ingredients to make it healthier. Also, be cautious of pumpkin items made with pumpkin spice or flavoring – these lack the nutrients found in actual pumpkin. (Most pumpkin lattes or coffee drinks are made this way.) Enjoy the awesome fall weather and don’t forget to include your pumpkin!