Fall brings cooler weather, preparations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and a little known phenomenon called “pumpkin mania.” The squash that was once only prized as a pie ingredient or for jack-o-lantern carving is now found in everything imaginable: coffee, bread, beer, cookies, pancakes, soup, cream cheese, ice cream–even M & M’s.
Unfortunately, while these treats are festive and delicious, they are also often laden with sugar, fat and preservatives. Fortunately, pumpkin itself is a healthy and delicious vegetable, full of nutrients.
So how can you survive pumpkin season without going overboard? Read on for some healthy living tips.
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin is extremely versatile and, like other types of squash, is extremely nutritious. Here are some of the reasons why:
- High in fiber
- High in potassium
- Great source of vitamin C
- Low in fat
- Highly nutritious seeds
Why pumpkin is good for your skin:
- High in beta carotene, which fights wrinkles
- Contains enzymes and acids that encourage cell turnover for fresher, brighter skin
- Contains zinc to help prevent and heal acne
- Seeds contain vitamin E
- Can also be used as a topical treatment for aging or dull skin!
What Pumpkin Products to Avoid
We all know that a little indulgence is good once in a while. But keep in mind that most pumpkin-flavored treats are anything but healthy. Commercial baked goods, seasonal coffee drinks, and anything with added sugar can easily derail the health benefits of pumpkin. If you simply can’t resist your coffee shop’s seasonal goodies, go easy on portions, and only treat yourself occasionally (such as once per week).
For a healthier pumpkin fix, try making the squash part of your main dish rather than as the dessert. Pumpkin soup or risotto, for example, is low in sugar and high in nutrients. If you have a sweet tooth, try making your favorite pumpkin spice lattes or pumpkin bread at home.
You’ll still need to limit portions (homemade treats can still be high in fat and sugar), but you’ll avoid the preservatives, hydrogenated fats, and artificial ingredients of the store-bought versions. As a bonus, your kitchen will smell great, and you’ll save money.
For a snack, try roasted pumpkin seeds. They’re packed with nutrition. At breakfast, oatmeal with pumpkin makes a warm and satisfying start to the day. Try these links for a wide range of healthier pumpkin recipes:
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*The information on this page is not intended to be used as medical advice in any way. Always consult with your doctor for any health related concerns and before starting a new diet or exercise program.