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Thursday
Oct082009

Pumpkin Power

Written by Tom Nikkola - Director of Nutrition & Weight Management

It's October again and pumpkins seem to be everywhere - the grocery store, gas station, in the fields of farms alongside the road. Many people see this fruit as just something to carve and put a candle in. The truth is, pumpkin is a very nutritious, low-calorie food. Even if you don't plan to carve a pumpkin, you may still want to add some pumpkin into your diet as it provides quite a dose of nutrients.

Pumpkin Nutrition

Pumpkin is high in carotenoids. One of the carotenoids found in pumpkin is beta carotene, which has been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer and heart disease. It is also high in lutein and zeaxanthin which support eye health. Vitamin A and vitamin C are also high in pumpkin. The large amount of potassium in pumpkin may be beneficial for those with hypertension. Pumpkin is also very high in fiber, which is beneficial for reducing appetite and supporting weight management.

Another, often neglected, healthy part of the pumpkin is the seeds. Pumpkin seeds may be beneficial in supporting prostate health. In animal studies, they have been shown be very effective in reducing inflammation. The seeds are also high in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and protein.

The best part about pumpkin is that you can eat A LOT of it for a very small amount of calories. The nutrition information for one cup of mashed pumpkin is:

  • 49 calories
  • 0 grams fat
  • 12 grams carbohydrate
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 2 grams sugar
  • 2 grams protein

One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains:

  • 125 calories
  • 5 grams fat
  • 15 grams carbohydrate
  • 5 grams protein

If you do some searching online, you'll be able to find many good, low-calorie options for using pumpkin. There are many versions of low-calorie, crustless pies and pumpkin mouse. If you have a favorite, feel free to share it in the comments section below. I've shared one recipe from my wife, which is a fantastic soup.

Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet Italian chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 lb. portabello mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. can 100% real pumpkin (not pie pumpkin) or you could use fresh pumpkin
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  •  

Salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

In a large pot, brown the sausage along with the onion, mushrooms and garlic. Add the pumpkin, broth and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. Add the cream and water, simmer 10-15 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning. Makes 8 1-cup servings. Enjoy!

References:

Adamik P. The Health Benefits of Pumpkins. Associated Content, Sept 21, 2006

World's Healthies Foods. www.whfoods.org

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, noras a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medicaladvice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at thechoice and risk of the reader.

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