Despite the Southern California sun, fall is in full swing and the pumpkins are here to stay. Although this superfood is mainly purchased for decorative purposes, many are not aware that pumpkins packs a health kick brighter than its color.
The pumpkin belongs to the family of winter squash. Commonly mistaken as a vegetable, this giant gourd is scientifically a fruit because it has seeds.
Often associated with Thanksgiving, the original settlers, more commonly known as Pilgrims, used this brightly-colored gourd as a means of survival in the colder months, according to Food Revolution Network, a website that provides insight on food.
Pumpkin is actually indigenous from South America all the way up to the United States. Celebrated throughout Native American culture, it was often used for its medicinal benefits, according to The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods, a nonprofit organization that provides information on healthy eating.
It eventually made its way to other parts of the world through trade and explorers that came to the Americas.
The pumpkin seed has high nutritional value as it is a fine source of the mineral zinc, according to The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods. This provides many benefits like regulating immune function and improving memory. As a way to garner the mineral, the seed is often roasted and eaten unshelled.
“For me, the basic thing is calcium and magnesium. That is one of my supplements for zinc and calcium and magnesium, so that’s why right now I’m drinking pumpkin seed milk,” said Martha Velasco, a frequent pumpkin eater.
The pumpkin is also known to promote the look and texture of your skin. It is rich in antioxidants and vitamin A to help improve the overall appearance of skin, according to the Food Revolution Network.
Another benefit to the vitamin contained in the fruit is the beta-carotene, which helps the eyes, according to Medical News Today, a health care publishing company.
There are also recipes that can help people achieve the goal of one cup of fruit in their diet. Velasco, for example, substitutes many foods like bread with pumpkin, and also bakes, boils and grills pumpkin.
However, there are simpler ways to incorporate it into your everyday foods, like using pumpkin puree. This can be added to regular oatmeal with a little cinnamon or nutmeg for extra flavoring.
With Halloween treats and Thanksgiving dinner right around the corner, pumpkins may provide that extra health boost during the fall months.