9 Reasons you should add pumpkins to your diet (recipe included)
10/31/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
9 Reasons you should add pumpkins to your diet (recipe included)

Nothing says fall like a hefty piece of pumpkin. Once the temperature starts to drop and leaves paint the skies in dazzling shades of reds and oranges, this popular gourd makes its appearance in coffee, soups, salads – you name it!

But there’s more to this orange winter squash than jack-o’-lanterns and pumpkin spice lattes. With a nutrient profile that’s as impressive as its size, pumpkins are a great example of nutrient-dense foods. It’s high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as powerful health-promoting antioxidants.

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Pick pumpkins for optimal health

Here are nine of the most touted health benefits of pumpkins:

  1. Boosts immune health – Both the seeds and flesh of pumpkins contain high levels of vitamin C. This micronutrient is so essential for immune health that having high levels of it is thought to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
  2. Helps cleanse the liver – The liver is responsible for keeping your blood free of toxins and harmful substances that may cause health problems. Pumpkins are rich in plant compounds called carotenoids that keep your liver clean and healthy.
  3. Maintains good vision – Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for good eye health and clear vision.
  4. Supports weight loss – The fiber in pumpkins add bulk to stool, which makes it easier to pass. This high fiber content also means you feel full for longer periods after eating pumpkins. In effect, you may feel less tempted to indulge cravings or snack in between meals.
  5. Improves skin health – Vitamin C also boosts the production of collagen. Having high levels of this protein helps keep your skin radiant. Vitamin C can also protect your skin from the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure.
  6. Supports heart health – Pumpkins are packed with potassium, an essential mineral that prevents sodium from raising blood pressure. High blood pressure is known to raise heart disease risk.
  7. Reduces cancer risk – Studies suggest that beta-carotene in pumpkins may also play a role in cancer prevention, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Lowers blood sugar – While carbs are part of what makes pumpkins so filling, they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Pumpkins may even improve insulin resistance in diabetics and slow the progression of the disease.
  9. Fights inflammation – Beta-cryptoxanthin, another kind of carotenoid found in pumpkins, may help alleviate inflammation and prevent the development of inflammation-related diseases like arthritis.

Recipe for one-pot vegan pumpkin chili

It wouldn’t be fall without a classic chili recipe. This one, in particular, is made with fiber-rich pumpkin cubes and black beans. With dried jalapeno peppers and a dash of paprika, it packs just the right amount of heat – a heartwarming chili for chilly nights!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons dried jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Preparation:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute bell pepper and onion for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft.
  2. To a slow cooker, add cooked bell pepper and onion, pumpkin, tomatoes, black beans and jalapeno.
  3. Season with paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine.
  4. Cook vegetables on high for 4 hours.
  5. Serve in bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese if desired.

Pumpkin is a nutritious superfood that may provide certain health benefits. To maintain optimal health, make pumpkins a regular part of your diet year-round, not just during the fall.

Sources:

FoodRevolution.org

DeliciousEveryday.com

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