THG Thankful Thursday – Pumpkins
They are everywhere! They are decorations for the season, carved or painted, lit up for Halloween, gracing tables and tablescapes for Thanksgiving, and picked up in your local grocery store, roadside farm stand, or favorite pumpkin patch! Coming in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, pumpkins are THE fall must-have. But beyond all that, they are good for you! And I don’t mean as in the “makes you happy and puts a smile on your face” kind of good. I mean as in “superfood, nutrient-dense, antioxidant” kind of good. It provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals but is low in calories……….before you add the sugary yumminess that creates a delicious pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread or latte drinks.
Let’s start with “Is a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?” The answer is “Yes.” By definition, a pumpkin is a large, round, orange-yellow, edible fruit with many seeds. A pumpkin is a fruit, because it is the edible plant structure of a mature ovary of a flowering plant, usually eaten raw. Although, due to it’s lack of sweetness, it is often popularly called a vegetable, much like tomatoes, beans, green peppers, etc. In cooking, it is also viewed and often consumed as a vegetable. Either way you look at it, it is still a valuable addition to your diet.
Pumpkin, as a part of your diet, can provide the following health benefits:
- The potassium in pumpkins has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure
- The antioxidants could help prevent degenerative eye disease
- Pureed pumpkin can be used as a substitute for butter and oil in baking recipes
- Pumpkin is a great source for beta-carotene (yes, the same one found in carrots) which can reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer and diabetes, prevent against asthma and heart disease, slow down aging, and is linked to healthy skin and hair, increased energy and a healthy BMI
- It is a powerful source of fiber, at 3-7 grams of fiber per serving.
- Pumpkin puree retains most of it’s benefit in fresh or canned form
Given all these amazing benefits, we can enjoy it in a plethora of ways during the fall season and, thanks to availability of canned pumpkin, throughout the year. Here are just a few examples for consuming this super-fruit………or super-vegetable.
- hot and cold drinks
- pie (duh!)
So, take full advantage of this in-season produce; the quantity and variety, and enjoy the healthiest flavor of fall………….pumpkins!