Linus wasn’t lying. It is the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
And while the blanket brandishing true believer didn’t get a sack full of toys that fateful night in the pumpkin patch back in 1966, science tells us this winter squash does, in fact, offer many different gifts.
Particularly popular around this time of year, pumpkins are commonly believed to be a vegetable. But here’s the trick and the treat: Since pumpkins have seeds, they’re technically classified as fruits. Even if, nutritionally-speaking, they more closely resemble vegetables.
Pumpkin is a low-fat, low-calorie food (0.2 grams and 49, respectively, per serving), offering anywhere from 10-20% of a person’s Reference Daily Intake (RDI) in everything from Iron to Vitamin C.
And even though its sturdy orange countenance doesn’t give it away – it’s actually 94% water! (And did you know pumpkins float? Give it a try sometime.)
Still not convinced? Here are four additional health benefits of pumpkins that will keep you grinning throughout Jack O’Lantern season and beyond.
1. Pumpkin is ridiculously rife with Vitamin A. A whopping 245% of your recommended daily intake. For those of you who aren’t up to speed on your nutrients, Vitamin A is an immune system powerhouse that helps your body fight off infection.
And see here: pumpkin is also rich in beta-carotene, which is responsible for its trademark color. Your body transforms this into Vitamin A, too, which fosters healthy eyes and reduces one’s risk of cataracts and blindness.
2. Pumpkin is high in antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and more. These protect your body against free radicals – unstable molecules that left unchecked lead to oxidative stress, which lead to cancer and other disease.
3. It’s good for your heart. Pumpkin is high in potassium, which studies have linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke, which are both contributing factors to heart disease. Pumpkin seed oil, too, may lower already elevated blood pressure levels.
4. It can facilitate weight loss. Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber. That slows digestion and helps to curb your appetite. You feel fuller, longer. Its high-water content promotes normal bowel movements, and it lowers your risk of obesity.
And when you consider pumpkin’s role in preventing diabetes, boosting muscle function, and more – we haven’t even scratched the surface of this continuously giving gourd.
So, crack open a can of puree or slice and roast that bad boy that didn’t make the Halloween cut this year. (Pumpkin pie filling, unfortunately, doesn’t quite count due to the high sugar content. Sorry to bury that lead.) Still, the health benefits of pumpkins are plentiful, and paired with a comprehensive personal fitness program can put you on track to a healthier lifestyle.
At Fitness Together Ellicott City, our certified trainers are proficient in a multitude of disciplines, making their guidance that much more effective. Trainer Duanita Norman, for example, specializes in fitness nutrition, weight loss, and behavior change. She helps her clients implement strategies to maintain their eating lifestyles through various challenges.
So, why not get started? The patch – and our studio – are open for business. Call us today at 410-750-2228 to learn more.