28 Sep The Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Every October, the supermarkets will begin stocking Pumpkins aplenty. Most are destined for decoration only. Halloween pumpkins sold by supermarkets aren’t generally grown for taste. But grow your own and see just how delicious, and versatile the pumpkin can be.
Pumpkin is packed full of nutrients – rich in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories and high in fibre. Both the pumpkin flesh and seeds can be used in many ways and in both sweet and savoury dishes.
The benefits of pumpkin to our health are wide-spread too;
Reducing the Cancer Risk
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of Beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives orange vegetables their colour (carrots and sweet potatoes are other examples that are high in beta-carotene). Research suggests a diet rich in Beta-carotene reduces the risk of prostate cancer and hold back the development of colon cancer.
Regulating Blood Pressure
Pumpkin is great for the heart too. The fibre, vitamin C and potassium within pumpkin are all good for a healthy heart. Studies suggest that increasing potassium intake is as important as reducing sodium intake for the treatment of high blood pressure and also reduces the risk of stroke.
Pumpkin helps not only reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes but can also help control blood sugar for those already diagnosed with it. Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin help absorb glucose into the intestines and tissues, along with balancing liver glucose levels.
Pumpkin isn’t especially low in carbohydrates, which increase blood sugar levels, but it also contains substances that help minimise the effect. The Glycemic load of pumpkin is only 3. Anything under 10 is considered low – which means pumpkin is unlikely to cause a blood sugar spike.
The high fibre content of Pumpkin also helps slow the absorption rate of sugar into the bloodstream.
As a vegetable high in both vitamin A and beta-carotene, your immune system receives a boost too. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A by the body, which helps the creation of white blood cells that fight infection.
Including Pumpkin in your diet
Fresh, homegrown pumpkin is always going to give the best taste. Although most varieties will keep for months if stored well, that still leaves a few months in the year when you’re unlikely to have any to hand (unless you freeze plenty ahead of time, of course).
If you do have to buy the canned variety, make sure it’s pure pumpkin. Many canned varieties are intended for pumpkin pie and as a result, have sugar added too.
Pumpkin seeds, which are a valuable nutritional source alone, will keep for well in excess of a year if dried and stored in an air-tight container. These can be roasted, eaten raw or even ground to make flour. Pumpkin flour ideal for low-carb baking, and can be used as a direct replacement for almond flour in recipes.
I’ll be sharing plenty of Pumpkin recipes here over the coming months.