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Pumpkin is much more than a seasonal staple of the fall and winter months: it belongs on the superfood list! Though more often associated with dessert, pumpkin is actually a nutrient-rich fruit with a surprising array of health benefits to offer. For example, this winter squash is an excellent source of both vitamin C and vitamin K.
Pumpkin is one of the most versatile superfoods around, and it can be used in more than just pies and lattes. You can substitute pumpkin for sweet potatoes in lots of recipes, you can also add this fruit to cake mixes, roast it in the oven with other types of winter squash and root vegetables, or put some in your daily smoothie. No matter how you add pumpkin to your diet, you'll be "treating" your body to the following health benefits:
As a child did you ever hear that “carrots are good for your eyes?” We might have thought our moms were just saying that to encourage us to eat our veggies, but there’s actually science behind it. Beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, is responsible for the vibrant orange color that pumpkin is famous for. A single cup of pumpkin contains more than 200% of the vitamin A that most people need daily. Vitamin A is necessary for healthy eyes and helps the retina both process and absorb light.
Add pumpkin to your diet all year for an essential boost to your immunity. Vitamin A isn't only good for eye health -- it also improves your immunity by helping your body ward off viruses, infections, and other diseases. You'll get 20% of the suggested daily amount of vitamin C when you incorporate just one cup of pumpkin into your meals. Vitamin C might even help shorten the duration of colds to help you ward off those seasonal sniffles. You can also use pumpkin oil topically to fight a variety of fungal and bacterial infections.
If you're watching your weight this holiday season, be sure to include pumpkin in your diet for more than desserts. Each cup of pumpkin provides you with seven grams of fiber, which helps your body digest food more slowly. In turn, this helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
There are lots of heart-healthy nutrients in pumpkin. In addition to vitamin C and fiber -- both of which support a healthy heart -- pumpkin also contains significant amounts of potassium. Some studies seem to suggest that getting a sufficient amount of potassium could be nearly as important to reducing the amount of sodium in your diet when it comes to treating high blood pressure. Potassium also helps protect your bone density, reduce your risk of strokes, and guards against muscle cramps, aches, and weakness.
Pumpkin pulp and seeds contain plant compounds that have been shown to excel at absorbing glucose into the body's intestines and tissues. They also have an essential role in balancing the levels of glucose in the liver.
With all the nutrients packed into a pumpkin, this beloved winter squash definitely deserves its superfood status. The only thing left to choose is … how many fun ways can you work it into your diet?
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