Pumpkin: More than a fall dessert

Smith's is stocked up for the pumpkin season as the vegetable makes it's way into a variety of recipes. (Photo by Sarah Hill.)
Pumpkin season is in full swing. These pumpkins at Smith’s are full of antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, and are perfect for fall recipes. (Photo by Sarah Hill.)

Pumpkins, along with being a fall food and decoration favorite, can also help you lead a healthy life. Pumpkins contain antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, adding a healthy boost to anyone’s daily diet.

“I’ve always considered pumpkin treats to be one of the more healthy things,” said senior Nadine Stringham, a math education major from Idaho. “But it’s like the idea that ice cream is healthy because it has milk in it.”

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies might not be the best way to add veggies to your diet, but when added to other meals like breads, soups and even pasta, the health benefits of pumpkin are worth noting.

There are (at least) five healthy reasons to eat as much pumpkin as possible this fall season:

1. Beta-carotene

According to the Livestrong website, beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps protect against heart disease and cancer. Although pumpkin is usually only eaten during the holidays, health benefits like this one make eating it year round beneficial to people’s health.

“I don’t discriminate against pumpkin in the summertime,” said Russell Reeve, a junior and economics major from California. “I’ve made pumpkin pancakes in the spring for General Conference breakfast, and all year round.”

2. Fiber and protein

Just one cup of pumpkin has 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein, according to researchers at the University of Illinois. Pumpkin offers an alternative to red meat, yogurt and nuts as a necessary supplement to a well-balanced diet.

3. Vitamins

Pumpkins are a favorite holiday treat, but they also offer various health benefits. (Photo by Sarah Hill.)
Pumpkins are a favorite holiday treat, but they also offer various health benefits. (Photo by Sarah Hill.)

Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin C and vitamin E, according to Livestrong. These vitamins provide energy and stamina.

4. Calcium

Pumpkin can even help keep bones strong. One cup of it has 37 mg of calcium, according to Livestrong.

5. Potassium

Potassium is a mineral that helps your heart rhythm stay strong and stable, according to Livestrong.

While adding pumpkin to desserts is common in the fall, adding it to healthier meals like soups or breads can be a great way to utilize all the health benefits pumpkin has to offer.

“There are so many ways to use pumpkin other than in desserts,” Ali Chumbley, a family life major from California, said.

Chumbley has tried pumpkin in different meals, such as soups and ravioli, and loves the taste of it.

“The filling for the ravioli is mostly pumpkin with some nutmeg, onion, salt and pepper and some cheese,” Chumbley said. “It’s pretty healthy, but the pumpkin still gives it that creaminess.”

The health benefits and variety of dishes possible make pumpkin a nutritious and delicious addition to fall and the holiday season.

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