The many health benefits of pumpkin


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It's that time of year that we see pumpkins everywhere and it turns out Pumpkin Pie barely breaks the crust of its nutritional value.

The bright orange winter vegetable is chock full of the precursor to vitamin A which is beta carotene. Vitamin A is critical for vision, healthy skin, and brain function.

In fact, people who include more pumpkin in their daily diet have lower rates of macular degeneration which usually kicks in as and when we're in our 50s.

Vitamin A in your system helps to prevent wrinkles. The liver takes vitamin A, turns it into something called retinol, which can be very protective on our skin, and it can also help to regenerate skin that's been damaged by the sun.

Pumpkin is also full of fiber which keeps us fuller longer. They actually have a combination of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. When you consume it, it's going to gather up water through the digestion process making you feel fuller longer, which is not such a bad thing during the holidays.

The insoluble fiber is those little fibers you're going to see when you consume pumpkin. That fiber is great fuel for your gut bacteria, and we want to make our gut bacteria really happy because when they are thriving, our immune system is also thriving. 

Nutritionist Deborah Enos reveals the surprising benefits of pumpkin and shares some tasty recipes below:

Autumn Pumpkin Chili

1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small sweet yellow pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
4-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Optional toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn chips and sliced green onions

1. In a large skillet, saute onion and the green and yellow peppers in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Crumble turkey into skillet. Cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.
2. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the pumpkin, tomatoes, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours. If desired, serve with toppings.

Creamy Pumpkin Hummus

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil or pumpkin seed oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil or olive oil, optional
1/4 cup salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Baked pita chips and sliced apples and pears

In a food processor, combine the first 9 ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl. Garnish with oil if desired; top with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds. Serve with pita chips, apples and pears.


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