The pumpkin bandwagon we all jump on every fall is finally here. Pumpkin candles, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cereal and pancake mix — need we even mention the sacred PSL?
There's not a company out there whose marketing team can't find a way to exploit our love for pumpkin. And you know why they do it? Because there are suckers out there who succumb to almost any of the pumpkin temptations that come her way. Ahem. Here's looking at you, kid.
But, the good news is this: That pumpkin habit may actually make you healthier.
That's right. Pumpkins are good for you. If pumpkins are good for you, then pumpkin byproducts must be, too, right? Eh — we can stretch it just a little bit.
If you're a true pumpkin lover, fully garbed in plaid, skinnies and boots, there are plenty of reasons why you should keep that love going. Here's why pumpkins should be a regular part of your diet year-round:
1. Pumpkin Is Low in Calories.
Oh, hallelujah. A healthy, low-calorie food that doesn't taste like cardboard! That's something shy of a miracle, isn't it?
Because pumpkin is low in calories, you probably could get it into just about every meal. One cup of cooked and mashed pumpkin has just 49 calories — and those 49 calories come with a million health benefits.
Add it to smoothies or use it as a replacement for butter and oils in baking. If that doesn't provide you with enough incentive or ideas to incorporate pumpkin into more parts of your diet, try some of these additional healthy (and sweet!) pumpkin recipes.
2. Pumpkin Is Rich in Beta Carotene.
All of those veggies and fruits that have a rich red or orange color (like the plaid shirt you should be wearing at this point) are full of beta carotene.
Why does that matter? Beta carotene gets converted into vitamin A, which acts as a much-needed antioxidant. In fact, vitamin A boosts the immune system and can lower the risk of developing heart disease, as well as certain cancers.
It may also help your reproductive system stay healthy so you can keep popping out more pumpkin lovers.
3. Pumpkin Helps Your Digestive Tract.
As if you weren't already convinced you needed that extra round of pumpkin pie, consuming it — minus some of the sugar — may actually help your digestive system.
One cup of canned pumpkin has over seven grams of fiber. Fiber can help keep your digestive system “regular,” and can also help you with maintaining that healthy weight.
Though keeping a can of pumpkin in your car may not be the easiest, pumpkin seeds are just as full of fiber and a little more easily transported. Pumpkin seeds have a whopping 12 grams of fiber per cup.
4. Pumpkin Fights Depression.
Major Depressive Disorder affects about 14.8 million adults in the United States. Depression, though not often talked about, is rampant, and you may be looking for ways to reduce your symptoms.
Guess what? Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are known to help combat depression. Full of magnesium, they're an instant, plant-based mood booster, as increased magnesium has been linked to increased serotonin levels.
So when you feel yourself getting stressed or overwhelmed, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds to give yourself an instant lift.
5. Pumpkins Keep Your Heart and Kidneys Healthy.
Pumpkins have yet another health benefit. They're full of potassium, which is absolutely crucial to keeping your pumpkin-loving self functioning properly.
Potassium directly affects the inner workings of your heart and kidneys, and it helps prevent muscle cramping.
Pumpkins offer approximately 394 milligrams of potassium per cup, which is only slightly lower than your other potassium-infused favorite: the banana (422 mg in one banana).
Lucky for you, the two work together seamlessly when thrown together in a smoothie. This Paleo pumpkin pie smoothie is to die for and is a great way to reward a hard workout.
6. Pumpkin Is Good to the Last Drop — or Crumb.
Some women are known to sneak in a little pumpkin before fall hits. Those women, those brilliant women, know what's good for them. It turns out that pumpkin habit we find ourselves indulging in every September may just be one of our healthiest moves all year.
Though not everything with the word “pumpkin” on it is healthy, it sure looks as though a diet that has heaping amounts of pumpkin in it is a really good thing.
So the next time you find yourself staring at the pumpkin muffin crumb on your plate, break down and eat it — and that pumpkin pie? Why not? And maybe just try and roast some up with dinner.
Your heart, kidneys, digestive system and pretty much every other part of your body will thank you.