The Powerful Pumpkin: Surprising Health Benefits of Fall's Favorite Fruit
by Michelle Gregg, Counseling Astrologer
What comes to mind when you see the bright orange skin and funny, lumpy shape of a pumpkin? Jack-o’-Lanterns, witches and warlocks? Tiny, spooky creatures at your door announcing “trick or treat?” Or do you think more of the harvest, Thanksgiving, family gatherings and pumpkin pie? Whatever your associations with this very versatile fruit, pumpkins offer more than fun or symbolism. They pack a powerful nutritious punch, being rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and are an excellent source of fiber. Both the flesh and seeds of pumpkins can be eaten to offer an astounding variety of health-boosting benefits.
Packed with Vitamins and Nutrients
Isn’t it interesting that a nutrient dense fruit that can help us stave off illness by boosting the immune system grows in our gardens (or the local pumpkin patch) at just the right time of year? There’s no time better time than Fall to begin to build immunity from traditional Fall and Winter colds and flu. Pumpkins are full of Alpha and Beta-carotene, potent antioxidants, as well as vitamin A. Both our vision and our immune systems get a boost each time we eat pumpkin. Another reason to love pumpkin is that Alpha-carotene is thought to slow the aging process (always a wonderful side effect!), reduce the risk of developing cataracts and prevent tumor growth. Beta-carotene acts as an anti-inflammatory and may also reverse skin damage caused by the sun.
The vitamin C found in pumpkin is another immunity booster, reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, and regulates cholesterol levels. But pumpkin doesn’t stop there. It’s also a good source of vitamin E, which promotes healthy skin by protecting the body from sun damage and it may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and certain cancers. Pretty amazing.
If you’ve never roasted pumpkin seeds, this Halloween might just be the time to start. It’s a fun and satisfying finish to Jack-o’-Lantern carving and something the kids love to help with! Pumpkin seeds contain essential vitamins and minerals. They’re a good source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and are an excellent plant-based source of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Offset the Halloween candy by giving your kids (and yourself!) this tasty and truly healthful snack.
Potassium and Fiber Rich
Need more to be convinced? Here you go. The potassium found in pumpkin, which is necessary for energy production, aids in balancing fluid levels in the body, promotes strong bones, and helps to control blood pressure. Pumpkin is also rich in magnesium, which aids the body in hundreds of functions, including promoting a healthy immune system in yet another way, contributing to bone strength, and normalizing heart function.
This fantastic fruit is also an excellent source of fiber; one-half cup serving contains 5 grams. Fiber helps reduce bad cholesterol levels, protects the body against heart disease, controls blood sugar levels, promotes healthy digestion, and plays a role in weight loss. Just these factors alone are more than enough to get us all eating more pumpkins!
Pumpkin Preparation Ideas
Fresh pumpkins are typically only available during the fall and early winter, but don’t forget that canned pumpkin is available all year and is just as nutritious. Fresh or canned pumpkin can be pureed and used to make soups, muffins, breads, puddings and smoothies. And those pumpkin seeds you roasted after carving can be spiced and eaten as a snack, used to top salads or added to sautéed vegetables adding great texture and bite. Pumpkin seed oil, which tastes amazing and has a beautiful rich color, can be used in cooking and makes a wonderful base for salad dressing. The ways that you can use and enjoy pumpkin are limited only by your imagination.
So what are you adding to your shopping list this week?
Michelle Gregg is a Counseling Astrologer who is passionate about helping you re-connect with your joy and reminding you of your life path. Using astrology, mythology and a Jungian perspective, she works gently and with humor to help you realign your relationships, career, finances, and your health – and any life challenges or concerns that you face throughout the cycles of your life. There is a deep spiritual grounding in all of her work. Michelle writes, speaks and sees clients all over the world. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit her website for more info on consultations, her astro work with writers, Client Info Form, articles, and sometimes you'll even find current astro info to help you along your way. www.michellegregg.com