During the months of October and November, odds are you cannot go anywhere without seeing orange — pumpkins, that is. Whether it’s the latest flavor at your local bakery, coffee shop or even the neighborhood bar (ever had pumpkin spice beer?), pumpkins are notoriously synonymous with the fall season. But there’s more to this hearty orange fruit than just seasonal cliches. The health benefits of pumpkin are plentiful, making it a smart choice to add to your diet not only this fall, but all year long.
Here are six reasons to think outside the pumpkin pie and reap the benefits of this gourd.
1. High fiber content = weight loss
In short, pumpkin’s high amount of fiber means it can help you lose weight. Fiber slows down the body’s digestive system, making you feel full for a longer period of time, so you eat less. On average, one can of pumpkin has 7 grams of fiber and is low on calories (about 50 per serving).
2. Improved vision
On your next visit to the optometrist, your doctor just might recommend you eat more pumpkin. That’s because, much like carrots (also an orange food; see the connection?), pumpkin gets its color from high levels of beta carotene, a nutrient the body naturally converts to vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. One cup of pumpkin packs 200% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Also, pumpkin antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin can aid in the prevention of cataracts.
3. Immune boosters
In addition to promoting eye health, vitamin A helps fight bacterial infections and diseases in the immune system. Pumpkin’s high level of vitamin C can also help fight that cold that’s been going around your office.
4. Wrinkle-fighting properties
Beta carotene is a supernutrient, in that it also helps protect the skin from harmful UV rays that cause wrinkles. Plus, if you mix 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin with an egg, tablespoon of honey and tablespoon of milk, you have a great 20-minute face mask that exfoliates and soothes the skin.
5. Treat diabetes
Research has indicated that pumpkin can reduce blood glucose levels and promote the body’s insulin production. The fruit’s low glycemic load means it’s a perfect food choice for diabetic patients.
6. Reduce your risk of cancer
Did we mention that beta carotene is a supernutrient? Well, here’s more proof. It helps fight cancer-causing free radicals, which means pumpkin is good for reducing your risk of certain types of cancer.
Information gathered from an article on CNN.com