This time of year pumpkins are everywhere, usually either adorning front door steps or being readied as a lantern for their Halloween outing. Pumpkins next big hurrah will come on Thanksgiving Day (here in the U.S.) when pumpkin pies will be on most holiday tables. Once Thanksgiving is over, poor pumpkin gets forgotten about for the next 11 months. Well it’s time that changed! This healthy cancer-fighting food should be included in your diet in more than just a yearly pie. Pumpkins are actually a fruit and belong to the squash family along with some popular varieties like acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash.
How can pumpkin help fight breast cancer?
What elevates pumpkin to superstar status is its magical combination of carotenoids. Pumpkin contains one of the richest sources of bioavailable carotenoids known. Its super cute color isn’t just for looks! Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their deep orange, yellow or red color.
Foods rich in carotenoids have been associated with a wide variety of health benefits and disease fighting capacity. They have been shown to decrease the risk of several different cancers, including breast cancer. These carotenoids can reduce precancerous cell changes that may lead to the formation of breast cancer. Also, women with the highest blood carotenoid levels have a reduced risk for breast cancer.
Pumpkin is also packed with fiber. Studies show that women who eat higher amounts of dietary fiber reduce their risk for breast cancer compared to those who eat less. Pumpkin is also a highly nutritious, low calorie food, which can help keep your weight stable. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces your breast cancer risk. Fresh pumpkin contains just 30 calories per cup! Crazy!
Let’s not forgot about the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of dietary zinc, which is important for immune function. Adequate amounts of zinc are also necessary for the production of enzymes that digest our food. Enzymes play a vital role in helping with absorption of nutrients and protein, therefore promoting overall health while reducing your cancer risk. Unlike fresh pumpkin, pumpkin seeds are higher in calories, about 285 calories per cup, so keep that in mind when using them. They’re healthy, nutritious calories though :)
The nutrients in pumpkin are truly amazing. Pumpkins contain disease-fighting nutrients like potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C and E.
The pumpkin seeds contain protein, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and fiber and offer many health benefits including, strengthening your metabolism, boosting your immune system, detoxifying the body, protecting your bones, boosting heart health, reducing inflammation in the body and helping with kidney stones.
If you’re feeling wired and stressed after a long day, pumpkin seeds can help to calm you down and allow you to get a good nights sleep. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan and magnesium, both of which are associated with sedation and calming qualities. Reach for pumpkin seeds to help you achieve the restful sleep you need!
I just have to confess, that while writing this, I found myself reaching into the pantry for my bag of pumpkin seeds. I’m trying to push the bag away…they are just a wee bit more-ish :)
This is the perfect time of year for pumpkin and there are so many delicious, simple ways to prepare it. If you haven’t tried to use fresh pumpkin for cooking before, why not give it a try, as fresh pumpkins are plentiful at the moment. If you do buy it canned, make sure it’s the pure pumpkin version and not the sugar laden pie mix variety. Danger!
Pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed in so many ways. You can sprinkle them on salads, add them to sautéed veggies, toss them in to cereals or granola and even add them to your veggie burger mix!
Pumpkin Quinoa Chili
This savory pumpkin recipe from Julia at Julia’s Album www.juliasalbum.com
would make a nice, healthy change from your usual chili!
Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
A grab and go breakfast option from Regina at Leelaliscious www.leelaliscious.com
Protein Pumpkin Shake
A healthy, delicious shake from Liz at Love Grows Wild www.lovegrowswild.com
Simple Pumpkin Soup
And because I can’t seem to end without a soup… this one is delicious from Dana at Minimalist Baker www.minimalistbaker.com
Dana also takes you through step-by-step accompanied by beautiful photos, how to roast your own pumpkin.
Happy Halloween! Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe or a special memory of pumpkins at the holidays? Share below.