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Pumpkins, the Nourishment of Fall
Fall has become the season of pumpkins between the jack-o-lantern halloween decorations, the pumpkin pie, and the popularity of pumpkin spice. This official state fruit of New Hampshire has many health benefits but not necessarily in the ways that we tend to eat them. Most pumpkin dishes in America are full of sugar and negate most of their health benefits. The seeds of the pumpkin also have many health benefits so when making your jack-o-lanterns this year don’t throw the pumpkin seeds away! Use them!
Benefits of pumpkins/pumpkin seeds
Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, containing 245% the reference daily intake. Vitamin A is commonly known to be important for eye health. In addition vitamin A as well as iron, folate, and vitamin C and E found in pumpkins are important for immune function. Vitamin C specifically increases white blood cell production and aids in wound healing. Pumpkins are also nutrient dense because they are low calorie. Pumpkins are 94% water.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, folate, and good fats. Magnesium is important for controlling blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, maintaining bone health, and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Both pumpkins and their seeds are a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for reducing inflammation, reducing free radicals, and protecting against diseases.
Pumpkins and their seeds are a good source of fiber. Fiber has many benefits including blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of heart disease, saitiation, and regulating bowel movements. Soluble fiber will slow the body’s absorption of glucose thus aiding in blood sugar regulation. Soluble fiber will also bind to LDL cholesterol and cause it to be excreted thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber also absorbs water and expands creating a sense of fullness. The insoluble fiber will aid in the regulation of bowel movements by providing bulk to the stool.
Reduce cancer risk
Studies have linked diets rich in pumpkin seeds to a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers. Antibiotics as well as the phytoestrogens in the pumpkin have been shown to decrease cancer risk.
Improve Prostate/Bladder Health
Several studies have shown that eating pumpkin seeds reduces symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Further research suggests that supplementation of pumpkin seeds aid in treatment of an overactive bladder.
May Improve male fertility
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc which may improve sperm quality. Studies have shown that zinc deficiency is associated with infertility in men and reduced sperm quality. There is also one animal study in mice that suggests that pumpkin seed oil may protect sperm from the damage caused by chemotherapy and even autoimmune diseases. Pumpkin seeds also contain nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels which is important for proper reproductive function.
Contradiction of pumpkin/pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin acts as a mild diuretic, similar to caffeine, in which it will induce an increase in the amount of water expelled as urine. Because of this it is not recommended to eat large amounts of pumpkin when taking medications that contain lithium. Diuretics impair the body’s ability to remove lithium and can result in serious side effects.
Ground spicy Italian sausage
Red bell pepper; chopped
1 ½ Tbsp
2 15 oz cans
1 15 oz can
1 15 oz can
1 15 oz can
2 ½ cups
garlic ; chopped
Ground black pepper
Fire roasted tomatoes; not drained
Kidney beans; drained and rinsed
Black beans; drained and rinsed
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat
- Add the sausage to the hot oil and cook for 8-10 minutes while stirring and breaking into bite size pieces, until browned and cooked through.
- Remove the sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel.
- Add the chopped onion and bell pepper to the pot and cook for 10-12 minutes over medium heat while stirring until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and seasonings. Cook while stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, pumpkin puree, chicken broth and sausage.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Garnish as desired and serve
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds.
- Drizzle pumpkin with grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the pumpkin cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until very soft (about 35 to 45 minutes).
Pumpkin Seed recipes
|Raw Pumpkin Seeds|
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Wash pumpkin seeds in warm water in a colander and rub them together in the palm of your hands to remove the pulp and fibers.
- In a small bowl combine pumpkin seeds, oil, and seasonings.
- Lightly grease a sheet pan with grapeseed oil and evenly spread the seasoned pumpkin seeds on the sheet pan.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes stirring every 5 minutes until toasted and crunchy.
- Let cool and enjoy. Great topping for yogurt, oatmeal, salad, or anything really. They are also a good snack just on their own. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.