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Pumpkin spice is the unofficial flavor of autumn, and without pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, the season wouldn’t be the same. But, this popular winter squash also has some impressive health benefits. Here are some reasons why pumpkin is one of the best seasonal superfoods.
1. Pumpkins can improve your vision
Pumpkins are rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant that your body turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps sharpen your vision, allowing you to see more clearly in low light. It also helps support the health of your retina and cornea. Pumpkins are also high in vitamin C, which reduces your risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.
2. They lower your cancer risk
“Pumpkins are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, making them a cancer-fighting food,” said Joshua George, R.D., Clinical Nutrition and Patient Services manager at Inspira Health. “Because they’re rich in vitamin A, pumpkins also lower your risk for certain types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.” Additionally, pumpkins contain carotenoids, a pigment that functions as an antioxidant. Carotenoids may lower your risk of developing throat, pancreatic, stomach and breast cancer.
3. Pumpkins are a heart-healthy food
“Pumpkins are rich in potassium, which can help regulate your blood pressure, lowering your risk for heart attack and stroke,” said George. “They also contain vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, which can help prevent heart disease.”
4. They can give you an immunity boost
Incorporating pumpkin into your diet can help your immune system become more effective at fighting off germs. Pumpkins contain vitamins C and E, beta carotene, folate and iron, which all help strengthen your immune system.
5. They leave you feeling fuller for longer
“Pumpkins are high in fiber but low in calories, which means they can help you feel full without increasing your overall food intake,” said George. “Because they’re such a good source of fiber, pumpkins can also help curb your appetite.”
The best way to reap the health benefits from this seasonal superfood is by avoiding high levels of sugar and artificial flavoring found in pumpkin-flavored treats. Instead, roast your pumpkin to make a savory soup or side dish. If you’re cooking or baking with pumpkin puree, look for the kind without added sugar.
At Inspira, we understand the challenges of healthy eating. With help from our nutrition team, you can learn to make healthy choices and develop a strategy that fits your lifestyle. To learn more, make an appointment with a dietitian.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.