Get Your Gourd On: An Unlikely Partner in Health
By Sara Butler
Winter is right around the corner and with it, the decorative gourds have descended. Of course, gourds are good for more than simply placing strategically in a cornucopia, they’re also good to eat. In fact, the bounty of gourds available to you this season has a variety of benefits to your health. Don’t be scared by the shellacked vegetables that collect dust at your grandmother’s house. Instead, go on your own pilgrimage to discover just how good these winter vegetables can be.
What is a Gourd?
Gourds cover a lot of ground. This family of food includes vegetables you’re probably used to such as pumpkins and squash, but they also encompass things such as cucumbers and melons. The latter are foods more prevalent in summer, with pumpkins and other squash coming into season in the fall and winter. They can be sweet or savory and definitely belong in your dietary lineup.
The Health Benefits
The humble gourd provides more than just the centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. When eaten, they provide your body with numerous health benefits such as:
- Support for a healthy immune system - Especially in the winter, maintaining a healthy immune system is crucial to promote optimal wellness. Certain gourds such as pumpkin are high in an antioxidant called beta-carotene, which provides its famous orange color. Gourds are also full of Vitamin C that works with the beta-carotene to help keep your immune cells healthy and functioning at their very best.
- Help to reduce inflammation - Gourds contain omega-3 fatty acids, naturally occurring sugars, and carotenoids, all of which work together to fight chronic inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues such as heart disease, which makes getting the right nutrients even more important.
- Improved circulation - There are many gourds that are high in minerals such as iron and copper that can help improve your circulation and deliver oxygenated blood to each cell in your body.
- Stronger bones - You need certain minerals such as manganese, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in order to maintain bone strength throughout your life and gourds have those minerals in spades.
- Stronger muscles - Pumpkins are an excellent source of protein, with about 7 grams of protein per serving. Remember, your body needs protein to help build and repair muscle, so you can pump up with pumpkins!
- Healthier digestion - Gourds are full of fiber that help to enhance digestion and promote healthy cholesterol levels.
- Improved heart health - Potassium is essential to regulate your blood pressure and gourds are full of potassium. One cup of butternut squash can provide almost a quarter of your daily potassium needs.
I think we’ve shown that gourds do a whole lot more than look decorative. When you’re shopping for gourds to make your home festive, pick up a few to add to your dinner and leave the shellacking to your grandmother.
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