Pumpkin: winter’s watermelon. Changing seasons means changes in seasonal produce, and pumpkin is fall’s nutrient powerhouse. Weather you are eating it fresh or canned, pumpkin delivers a decent amount of antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. I recently added canned pumpkin to our family’s emergency food supply box because it has more umph than other canned vegetables AND the ingredient list is so short and sweet: pumpkin. The canning process allows it to be shelf stable for 1-2 years without needing to add preservatives like sodium (not that ingredient lists and preservatives will be a big concern in the event we are required to use the emergency food supply, but this is a nice bonus). Here are 5 healthy reasons to keep pumpkin in your pantry, or if you are feeling extra ambitious, grow your own pumpkins.
What gives pumpkin it’s bright orange color? The antioxidant beta-carotene. Antioxidants block damage done by free radicals – which contribute to aging, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. In addition to being an antioxidant, beta-carotene gets converted to vitamin A, which is known as the “vision vitamin” because it promotes good vision, especially in dim light. Getting beta-carotene from orange/yellow fruits and veggies is a better idea than using supplements because high doses of beta-carotene can be harmful. Just half cup of pumpkin contains over 100% of your daily requirements for Vitamin A.
1 cup of pumpkin contains between 17% (canned) and 19% (fresh) of our Vitamin C requirements for the day. Vitamin C is necessary for growth and repair of our cartilage, bone, and teeth and it aids in the absorption of iron (which is related to how energetic we feel).