One of the most identifiable items of the fall season is a pumpkin. We head to the pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins, we carve pumpkins before Halloween, and we gush over pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes. We get it, pumpkin is pretty awesome! But do you know why? Pumpkin is nutrient-dense, immune-boosting AND hormone-balancing.
Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is the natural pigment compound in pumpkin (and many other fruits and vegetables) that gives pumpkin its orange color. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, making it a powerful antioxidant and immune booster, and particularly useful in maintaining our visual health. Pumpkin also includes: lutein (important for visual health),
vitamin E (another powerful antioxidant), and unsaturated fatty acids (i.e. oleic acid, linoleic acid).
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber.
Two types of fiber exist: soluble and insoluble. These two types of fiber refer to its ability to dissolve in water - soluble fiber will dissolve in water, whereas as insoluble does not. Pumpkin is high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water, slows digestion mildly and leaves you feeling fuller. This is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Soluble fiber can also aid in lowering cholesterol and help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are great for hormone health.
Pumpkin seeds, particularly their oil, are phytoestrogens - meaning plant-based estrogen. Phytoestrogens have the ability to weakly bind to our estrogen receptors, and can stimulate a response when needed. For example, pumpkin seeds can be used during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle (the first two weeks of the cycle), a time when estrogen is typically dominant, to aid in regulating cycles.
Pumpkin seeds have also been used for men to benefit prostate health when the prostate is benignly enlarged. Pumpkin is suspected to work as a diuretic and increase fluid output, therefore reducing the urinary urgency associated with an enlarged prostate.
Now that you know WHY pumpkin is so great - head over to the ‘Recipes’ tab and check out HOW to bake with it using the recipe for Paleo Pumpkin Bars! Keep this recipe handy when holiday season rolls around to replace pumpkin pie!