Although its still sweltering hot down here in south Florida, I know that elsewhere in the country temperatures are starting to cool….And I can tell this without checking the weather. How do you ask? Pumpkin flavored everything is starting to appear everywhere. From coffee to cookies and donuts I am seeing ads for all sorts of pumpkin treats. While it is ok to indulge in these treats once in awhile, they can be laden with a lot of fat, sugar, calories and not even real pumpkin. Instead of just buying things with pumpkin flavor, try and add some real pumpkin into your weekly routine so you can actually get some health benefits.
Pumpkins are fat, cholesterol and sodium free,a good source of vitamin C (good for your immune system and heart) and an excellent source of vitamin A (good for eye health, your immune system and cell growth, such as skin repair). Studies have shown that people who consume higher amounts of vitamin A from fruits and vegetables have lower risks of certain types of cancers. However, when taken as a supplement the results are more mixed, so don’t think you can just take a vitamin for the same benefits.
If you don’t want to bother cutting up a fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin can be just as nutritious. Just make sure you buy the kind with only 1 ingredient, pumpkin. 1 cup of pure canned pumpkin contains about 83 calories, 2.7g of protein, <1g of fat, 19.8g of carbohydrates, 7.1g of dietary fiber and 38,129 IU of vitamin A which is 762% of the daily value. Instead of heavy cream, you can use canned pumpkin in dishes such as soup or pasta sauces to help thicken. You can also use canned pumpkin as a substitute for oil or butter in baked goods. Instead of a cup of butter, use 3/4 cups pumpkin puree.