Pumpkins are generally thought of as a Halloween icon and a staple of the fall season. They're the scary, illuminated face on your doorstep or the filling in your Thanksgiving pie. Beyond that, not much thought is given to the pumpkin. However, that orange gourd is more than just a jack o' lantern - it's also packed with nutrients that can protect your body against serious health conditions.
The pumpkin is a great low-calorie snack, and is an excellent source of the following nutrients:
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of protein and provide 16.9 percent of the recommended Daily Value, according to World's Healthiest Foods. They also provide more than half of the Daily Value of manganese and about a quarter of the Daily Value of iron and copper.
Even though fresh pumpkins can be hard to find year-round, you can still incorporate them into your diet through canned pumpkin puree or pumpkin oil, which can be taken in capsule form. Both are filled with these nutrients and can satisfy that pumpkin craving before Thanksgiving comes.
Here are some of the ways that pumpkin's nutrients keep you healthy:
When selecting a pumpkin, either from the pumpkin patch or the grocery store, there are a few tricks to figuring out if it's ripe or not. A uniform orange color is a good indicator of a ripe pumpkin, but it's not a foolproof test; green pumpkins or pumpkins with some green color on them could still be ripe. Here are other ways to make sure your pumpkin is ripe:
If you want to harvest your own pumpkins, and decide to buy seeds in bulk, you should make sure that they are as fresh as possible. Smell the seeds, make sure they don't have a musty or rotten smell to them. Also, make sure that none of the seeds look shriveled and check the package for tears or holes, which could be an entrance for insects or water - neither of which you would want on your pumpkin seeds.
After you've picked the perfect pumpkin, it's ready to be made into a delicious dish. Aside from pumpkin pie, there are many ways to enjoy pumpkin meat and pumpkin seeds. Here are just a few ideas for you to try:
So, as you get ready to carve that jack o' lantern, think twice before you throw away those pumpkin scraps. The pumpkin meat and the seeds can be used in a variety of dishes and are packed with vitamins that will keep your body healthy and happy all year round.