This time of year, pumpkin can be found almost everywhere—in pumpkin bread, pumpkin beer, pumpkin soups and more. This versatile squash is both delicious and packed with vitamins and other healthful benefits. No wonder pumpkin has been added to so many foods!
• Eye health. According to the National Institutes of Health, a cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which provides antioxidant protection to the eyes and aids vision—especially night vision.
• Wrinkle-free skin. Beta-carotene, the antioxidant that gives carrots and pumpkins their bright orange color, may help prevent wrinkles by protecting the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Eating pumpkin can help prevent wrinkles, but so can this pumpkin face mask (from POPSUGAR Beauty):
¼ cup pureed pumpkin
For dry skin, add 1 tablespoon of honey; for oily skin, add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or cranberry juice.
Whisk all ingredients together, apply to skin, relax for 15-20 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.
• Weight loss. Pumpkin is packed with more fiber than whole-grain bread. Fiber slows digestion, causing the body to feel fuller longer. Also, pumpkin is almost 90 percent water, so it’s low in calories and helps keep you hydrated.
• While pumpkin itself is low in calories, however, eating too many pumpkin-based desserts can outweigh the health benefits, says Sandra Cubbage, a registered dietitian with Sentara RMH Medical Center. “High-fat, high-calorie items like pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin-based coffee beverages can contain more than 600 calories per serving and more saturated fat than the daily recommended intake,” Cubbage notes. “Opt for small portions of your favorite pumpkin desserts and enjoy them sparingly.”