The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

As the weather cools down, why not heat up your kitchen with pumpkin dishes? Pumpkin tastes delicious, creates a warm-like aroma, and feeds your body with many nutrients. Need more reasons to cook pumpkin? Here are just a few endless benefits from cooking with pumpkin.

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Vitamin A

Pumpkins, like other orange or yellow fruits and veggies, are excellent sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A. Antioxidants are important for your health because they neutralize free radicals or unstable substances in your body. Free radicals are produced when the cells in your body create energy by using oxygen.

Or, they're formed when you are exposed to environmental factors such as cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light. Free radicals can damage body cells and tissues. Your chances of developing certain types of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer's increase when you are continually subjected to harmful environmental factors. Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, like pumpkin, broccoli, spinach and berries, reduces your risk of developing these diseases due to their abundance of antioxidants. 

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Vitamin A supports normal vision and helps your eyes adjust well to the dark. It also promotes the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout your body. Vitamin A also protects you from infections by keeping the skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines, respiratory, genital and urinary tracts healthy.

Vitamin K

Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin K. One-half cup of canned pumpkin supplies about 40 percent of your daily requirements. This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for producing proteins that cause your blood to clot when you bleed. Additionally, vitamin K also aids in the production of other proteins that are needed for your blood, bones and kidneys.

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More Minerals and Vitamins

Pumpkin is an excellent source of potassium and magnesium. These minerals play essential roles in maintaining blood pressure. A 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin supplies approximately 7 percent of your daily requirement for potassium and magnesium. Pumpkin also produces 10 percent of your daily iron needs and 8 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements. Pumpkin is also naturally low in fat and provides a healthy 5 grams of fiber per serving. And, it can be easily incorporated into a variety of tasty and nutritious dishes. A few favorites are hot pumpkin pie cereal, moist pumpkin bread, pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin soup. 

There are endless ways to incorporate pumpkin into your diet. Check out www.fitnutrition.net for various healthy pumpkin recipes.

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