Nutrition Spotlight: Pumpkin
This time of year pumpkins are in the spotlight: pumpkin pies, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin spice lattes pop up on every menu! But pumpkins are more than just a fall flavour boost. They’re full of nutrients and are a great food to incorporate into your diet during the fall. Here’s the low-down on pumpkins.
It’s no surprise that the seeds and brightly coloured flesh of pumpkins are rich in vitamins and minerals like many other veggies. Specifically, pumpkins contain many B-vitamins, beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), the antioxidants vitamins C and E, alongside zinc and magnesium. Many of these nutrients boost immune health (especially vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc). Antioxidant-rich foods are helpful for promoting glowing skin, eye health, and many other processes throughout the body. Magnesium is often deficient in the North American diet leading to the common symptoms of: muscle cramps, fatigue, or restless leg syndrome. And some aspects of the pumpkin’s seeds can even help to regulate blood sugars! So, get creative and explore some new ways of enjoying pumpkin this fall!
Nutrient Content (per 1 cup cooked and mashed):
· 1.8g protein
· 0.2g fat (including Omega 3 and 6)
· 8% DV of iron
· 6% DV of magnesium
· 16% DV of potassium
· 4% DV of zinc
· 11% DV of manganese
· 11% DV of copper
· Antioxidants (including Vit E) and B-vitamins
USE IN: muffins, pies, stews, soups, oatmeal, pancakes, hot salads
Be choosy with canned pumpkin. If you choose not to prepare your own pumpkin puree, look for plain canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix, which contains many added ingredients including sugar!
Nutrient Content (per 1 cup):
· 12g protein
· 12g fat
· 12% daily value (DV) of iron
· 42% DV of magnesium
· 17% DV of potassium
· 44% DV of zinc
· 16% DV of manganese
· 22% DV of copper
· Antioxidants and B-vitamins
· L-tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin and melatonin)
Zinc and magnesium are commonly deficient nutrients so pumpkin seeds are a great addition to any diet for that reason alone! If you’re looking for even more zinc, unshelled pumpkin seeds are best.
USE IN: trail mix, homemade nut butter, salads, granola, oatmeal topper, smoothie bowl topper, roasted and lightly salted as a snack
STORAGE: As with other nuts and seeds, store excess in the freezer to keep them fresher (and make sure the natural oils don’t go rancid) for when you’re ready to enjoy.