Ah, fall. As the leaves change and flutter to the ground and the cool autumn breeze blows through bare braches, there’s something other than fresh air coming on the wind. Pumpkin. Or, more specifically, pumpkin-flavored everything. Bread, cookies, cakes, and the oh-so-famous pumpkin spice latte. Children shrieking with joy as they carefully select their favorite pumpkin from the patch, and pies with extra helpings of whipped cream garnishing the Thanksgiving table. This iconic orange fruit (yes, it’s actually a fruit) has a lot more to offer than fond memories and sugary treats, however. In fact, it may be just what you need to kick off your healthy holiday season.
Health benefits of pumpkin
It can often be hard to maintain a healthy digestive system. Processed food, traveling, and dairy are just a few things that can cause tummy gurgles and keep you from enjoying festivities. Eat pumpkin to help keep you regular and encourage everything to continue flowing smoothly. Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber and is a naturally hydrating fruit since it is made of about 90% water, which is also incredibly beneficial for the digestive system.
Can aid in diabetes management
Pumpkin is a wonderful food for helping to manage and potentially prevent type 2 diabetes. It can improve the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines and balance liver glucose levels. Plus, it is a naturally sweet food that can be enjoyed without a spike in blood sugar.
Boost immune system
Instead of waiting with bated breath to catch that flu that’s been circling your neighborhood, take preventative action and work to boost your immune system now. Incidentally, pumpkin is an excellent way to do just that. It is high in beta carotene (which is converted into vitamin A), vitamin C, and vitamin E; all of which help strengthen the immune system and fight off infections.
Helps you lose weight and improve muscle
Instead of waiting until January 1st to start tackling those weight and fitness goals, get started today. End the year strong by focusing on your health and don’t overindulge over the holidays. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself, though. In fact, one of the stars of the season, pumpkin, is a great weight-loss tool. Because it helps keep you feeling full, you’ll likely eat less and avoid unnecessary snacking. Plus, it is a wonderful source of potassium, which is critical for improving muscle function.
How to eat more pumpkin
Use puree in cooking
No, a pumpkin pie is not the only thing you can make in the kitchen with this yummy fruit. Grab a can of pumpkin puree with no added ingredients and whip up a brand new culinary creation. Try pumpkin soup in honor of fall, or mix it in with your favorite sweet or savory dish. The flavor is subtle enough that it will blend with many flavors, but it will also bring a new depth to your meal.
Mix it into oats
Traditional oatmeal or overnight oats are great options for breakfast. They are easy to prepare, keep you full, and do not cause a morning blood sugar spike, unlike many other breakfast foods. However, its high time to take that classic oatmeal up a notch and spice it up with some hearty pumpkin. Mix a little into your oats along with cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup for a filling, healthy breakfast treat.
Though it may sound strange, you can make some delicious smoothies with a little bit of pumpkin, a banana, and some almond milk. You can also try incorporating a scoop of pumpkin into your usual smoothie and experimenting with new flavors.
Instead of eating those sugary pumpkin spice treats that don’t actually contain pumpkin at all, whip up this delicious chocolate pumpkin yogurt for dessert. Simply combine Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, honey, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Yum!
Slice and roast
Grab a cooking pumpkin from the grocery store and roast it in the oven with your favorite spices. Serve it as a side or enjoy it as the main dish.
What is your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? Let us know in the comments below!