As fall creeps upon us, we are reminded of the all mighty pumpkin. The aromas of pumpkin spice will soon fill every café, restaurant and kitchen across the nation as multitudes of pumpkin-based dishes and drinks are whipped up. And while pumpkin breads, pies and lattes are delicious, they can also be packed full of nutrition. We asked Registered Dietitian, Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP) to give us the rundown on pumpkin and why it lives up to its seasonal hype.
What’s the scoop on 1 serving of pumpkin?
1 serving (1 cup)
3 g fiber
12 g carbohydrate
2 g protein
2.5 g sugar
Beyond the macro-level, pumpkin is beneficial for the body, from the immune system to your complexion. Here are five reasons why you should be adding pumpkin to more than just your latte this fall.
Immune Boosting Benefits
In just one serving, one cup of pumpkin contains 200% of your daily vitamin A. Vitamin A is important in supporting the immune response. Try pairing pumpkin with coconut yogurt, ½ banana, pie spice and Simple Mills Soft Baked Snickerdoodles for a probiotic rich immune boosting pumpkin parfait! Or try elevating pizza night with Roasted Pumpkin Topped Pizza.
Pumpkin flesh isn’t the only place the nutrition is at! The seeds are packed with protein, at about 10-12 g per ¼ cup, and are also a great source of plant sterols that support healthy cholesterol balance. Try adding pumpkin seeds to a salad for crunch, swapping for pine nuts in a pesto, or topping on Coconut Caramel Pumpkin Bread.
Vitamin C and Cell Health
One cup of pumpkin flesh contains 17 percent of the percentage daily value of Vitamin C, an important water-soluble antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage and is important for collagen production. For an extra vitamin C punch in your day, try Paleo Pumpkin Hummus with bell peppers and Simple Mills Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Four Crackers dippers!
Radiant Skin Boost
Pumpkin flesh contains anti-inflammatory carotenoids, a compound that gives pumpkin its bright orange color. Research suggests that carotenoids support skin health and have been found to decrease wrinkle activity.
Pumped up Potassium
Potassium is a mineral that regulates fluid balance and supports the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles. Pumpkin has more potassium than a banana with almost 12x less sugar. Try refueling post exercise with a pumpkin protein shake to help prevent muscle cramps!