// By: Emily Fitzgerald, MScFN,RD

October is finally here which means it is pumpkin season! At this time of year, we find ourselves surrounded by pumpkin-flavoured treats such as pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies, pie and lattes. A lot of the time, these pumpkin treats are filled with added sugars, unhealthy fats and empty calories. Although, pumpkin itself is a healthy nutrient-dense squash that can easily be added to meals and snacks!

Read on to find out why pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are a healthy choice.

 

Fill up on fibre!

Pumpkin has a high fibre content. Fibre helps keep you feeling full and promotes digestive health – both important for weight management.

 

Healthy vision and skin

Pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant. Vitamin A helps keep your eyes and skin strong and healthy. As this vitamin is also an antioxidant, it can help lower your risk of certain diseases and signs of aging – and who doesn’t love that?!

 

It’s all in the colour

Pumpkin’s bright orange pigment comes from the antioxidant, beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A in the body. Studies show that eating orange-coloured vegetables and fruits daily may help decrease your risk of disease while protecting your vision, immune system and skin.  Choose orange more often!

 

Heart healthy

Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterols, a type of plant molecule that may help reduce cholesterol levels. Pumpkin seeds are also high in other minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc, as well as healthy fats, antioxidants, and fibre.

 

Cancer prevention

As you have learned this far, pumpkins and their seeds contain several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients act to protect your cells from damage, lowering your risk of chronic disease, including cancer.

 

Easy addition

Now that you know how healthy of a choice pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are, how can you add them into your meals and snacks? It’s actually quite easy! Try roasting pumpkin seeds as a snack, add them to granola, baked goods or sprinkle them over salads. Add pure pumpkin to granola bars, soups, stews and pancakes.

 

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s hard not to overindulge when you are constantly surrounded by tempting foods! Be mindful and present at mealtime – chew your food well, take smaller bites and recognize the feeling of fullness before you overeat. While enjoying your favorite foods over the holidays, keep these strategies in mind.

 

Check out my seasonal pumpkin recipes:

Enjoy the changing leaves, sweater weather and delicious seasonal foods!

Here’s to living the grounded life,

Emily

 

Written in collaboration with Sara Hanifi, nutrition student volunteer