It’s starting to feel a lot like…..Autumn! The cooler air and water has embarked on us and because of the leafless trees, the brownish colour of branches this season gives a more fall look to our vistas this year. One of the best parts of Autumn is all the colours it represents. Even though we don’t get the turning of the leaves experience like the US do, we still get to enjoy the orange tones from pumpkin. The colour orange entices creativity, pleasure, passion, nurture, movement and change in the body. Pumpkins are not just for Halloween, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, out come all the pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin is not only yummy but has some great health benefits. Pumpkin is a diuretic for the body, helps rid the body of parasites, is exceptionally high in vitamin A, C and E helping the body with not getting wrinkles and maintaining the skin’s integrity, helps with mucus membranes, maintaining good sight and improves the immune system fighting off infections and viruses. Pumpkin is a good source of the vitamin B-complex group including folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. Pumpkin also boasts being rich in source minerals copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus which help refuel your body after a workout. A little extra potassium restores the body’s balance of electrolytes to keep muscles functioning at their best. Pumpkins are high in fiber and help keep you full longer assisting in weight loss programs and are great for controlling cholesterol and diabetes. Pumpkin is 50% water and 50 calories per serving and has shown to reduce blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance. Studies show pumpkin helps against lung, oral cavity and prostate cancers and helps protect against cataracts. This humble orange vegetable from the cucurbitaceae family is packed with beta-carotene. The deeper the pigment the higher the poly-phenolic antioxidants are, such as leutin, xanthin, carotenes and cryptoxanthin. It does not stop there, zea-xanthin, found in the flesh of pumpkin, is a natural UV (ultra -violet) rays filtering action in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes helping protect against age related macular disease in the elderly. Pumpkin oil is said to help fight off bacteria and fungal infections and beneficial for preventing hypertension, helping with lowering blood pressure. The pumpkin seeds are also good for you. The seeds have protein, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 inside. They also have phytosterols to help reduce LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, so they help with heart health. The pumpkin seeds offer lots of zinc and the amino acid tryptophan needed for the production of serotonin, the feel good endorphin, which aids in better sleep patterns.
To pick a good chunk look for the deepest orange colour you can find, it will have the best flavor and be packed with the most nutrients. I simply steam it and mash it up with organic butter but there are tons of recipes for a variety of ways to consume this amazing vegetable. Pumpkin can be roasted, stewed, stir fried, baked, but steaming retains the maximum health benefits. Lately I’ve seen pumpkin come in many edible and drinkable forms from pumpkin egg nog to pumpkin risotto! Whatever tickles your fancy get some before these glorious gourds are gone.
Written by Caroline Tee
Owner of Horizon Health and registered C.H.E.K. Practitioner