Nothing says “October” quite like the sight of mounds of bright orange pumpkins, bursting with vitality and strength. They look so sturdy, so unyielding that it always comes as quite a shock when you open them up and discover the soft succulent treasures inside!
So this October, instead of buying these remarkable squash simply to make lanterns, and scooping the flesh straight onto the compost heap, take a moment and reflect on all the goodness you’re discarding. Here’s why all those glorious pumpkin recipes in abundance at the moment are keepers :
- Adding cooked pumpkin to your salads is great for your skin. It’s packed with fruit enzymes and AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which increase cell production and repair. The high levels of vitamins C and A also boost collagen production and can fight visible signs of aging.
- A cup of cooked pumpkin contains twice your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is essential of good vision (particularly night vision.) It’s also high in carotenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A, for added benefits to your eyesight. (In fact, the primary carotenoid in pumpkin is beta-carotene, which doesn’t just sharpen your vision, but is a robust antioxidant thought to be effective in preventing cancer.)
- You just need to scoop out a pumpkin with your bare hands to know that it’s a highly fibrous food. However the real benefit is in its high content of soluble fibre (the stuff you don’t see) which is vital of aiding digestion and maintaining a healthy gut, as well as lowering cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
- Instead of reaching for a potassium-rich banana post-workout, how about some cooked pumpkin? A cup contains about 30% more potassium than a banana, making it a great choice for rebalancing the body’s stores of electrolytes.
- It’s not just about the pumpkin flesh, of course. Pumpkin seeds are veritable powerhouse of nutrients, and as such are a fabulous choice of snack. As well as bursting with anti-oxidants, these tiny seeds contain high levels of magnesium, copper and zinc, and are also a source of protein. They also trigger the body’s production of serotonin, one of the major components in determining our mood – the higher the serotonin, the happier we are.
So there you have it – pumpkins are nature’s own perfect nutritional food, great for incorporating into diet-plans and for making healthy meals even healthier. So now that you know that pumpkins have more to offer than just being nature’s lampshades, it’s time to get carving!