5 Reasons Why Pumpkin is the Perfect Food

By Krista Elliott

It's a joke you've probably seen on social media: Say "pumpkin spice latte" in front of a mirror three times, and a white girl in yoga pants and Uggs will appear and tell you everything she loves about fall. 

Jokes and jack-o-lanterns aside, the humble and underappreciated pumpkin packs a nutritional punch that you really shouldn't ignore. Here are some surprising health benefits of pumpkins that you may not have known. 

Fiber: It's Good for You! - Whether you're enjoying some roasted pumpkin seeds (I'm eating some right now!) or some silky-smooth mashed pumpkin, you're getting a heaping helping of fiber. And as has been well-documented, fiber has a wide range of benefits. It helps you say full longer, improves your cholesterol, and helps your digestive system work more smoothly. 

I Can See Clearly Now - Pumpkin, like other orange vegetables, is an excellent source of Vitamin A. And what does Vitamin A do for you? Besides promoting good vision, it "helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin." So, everything in your body, basically. 

Sphygmomanom-a-what? - If you suffer from high blood pressure, you know it can be a beast to control. Adding pumpkin to your diet may help. Researchers have discovered that pumpkin seed oil can provide significant improvements to blood pressure and can also protect the heart. 

Turkey Coma - If your Thanksgiving turkey dinner includes pumpkin pie, you may want to bring a pillow. Tryptophan, which helps your body produce the sleepytime combo of serotonin and melatonin, is not just in your turkey. Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of tryptophan, and also contain zinc, which supercharges your tryptophan-to-serotonin processes. 

Protect Your Prostate - Prostate health is a real and common concern for men as they get older. Fortunately, the humble pumpkin is on your side. Researchers in Taiwan discovered that pumpkin seed oil can hinder unhealthy prostate growth. And that zinc I mentioned earlier? It helps regulate and maintain healthy testosterone levels. 

As you've probably guessed from much of what I've written, a pumpkin spice latte (or a slice of pie) just isn't going to cut it, tasty as they are. To get the maximum benefits from pumpkin, it's best to eat the real thing. Fortunately, when roasted along with other fall veggies, it can be a delicious addition to your diet. And roasted pumpkin seeds with olive oil and a bit of paprika or dill? Now there's a tasty and healthy snack that will fill you up a lot better than these ubiquitous kale chips you're seeing everywhere. 

So, when you're out at the fall market, make sure to pick up a pumpkin or two. With all of these healthy benefits, your grin will put your jack-o-lantern's to shame!

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