October is upon us and the first image that comes to my mind when I think about October is… pumpkins. Bright orange, sometimes white, peach even yellow at times decorate front porches, fireplace mantles, and fall festivals around your community. And even though I still refuse to buy my own real pumpkins in this 90 degree heat, I have decorated my fireplace mantle (in my lovely airconditioned home) with a variety of plastic pumpkins to help get the fall spirit flowing. Another way people engage this seasonal staple is through cooking and baking! Everywhere you look now there is a pumpkin spice flavored food or drink. Some favorites of mine include pumpkin bread/muffins, pumpkin rolls, and pumpkin pie (I have a sweet tooth, can you tell? 😊). Some of the more outlandish ones I have seen in stores include pumpkin spiced cheerios, pumpkin spice oreos, and pumpkin spice frosted flakes. Seems to be a bit much for me, but nonetheless, this ingredient is obviously a favorite among the people. And you are bound to come upon this topic in your practice whether it be through a conversation with a patient/client or even through chit chatting with your fellow coworkers. One question that I often hear is, “Doesn’t pumpkin have a lot of health benefits?” And my answer is always a resounding, “Yes!” But to take it one step further I have gathered the specific health benefits this fruit (yes, fruit!) brings to the table so you can help educate those you meet. See below the health benefits of both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds!
Health Benefits of Pumpkin:
1) Pumpkin is rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping your immune system strong
2) One of those carotenoids, beta-carotene, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It helps prevent cholesterol build up in artery walls and gives the pumpkin its yellow/orange color.
3) Another carotenoid pumpkin is rich in, alpha-carotene, is believed to slow the aging process.
4) Pumpkins have been known to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.
5) Pumpkin helps lower the risk of hypertension thanks in part to it’s potassium content
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:
1) They promote overall prostate health
2) They are comprised of L-tryptophan, a compound that has been found to be effective against combating depression.
3) Research has shown that they help prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
4) There phytosterol content helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels
Sounds like its time to get cooking (or baking)! Make something for a work potluck or host a cooking demo for clients and get the conversation started. There is a pumpkin roll recipe waiting for you over on the recipe page right now! Happy eating!