Food FYI - Pumpkin

It's been a while since I did a Food FYI, and I thought that a certain seasonal food would help to bring it back - PUMPKIN!  This time of year is amazing for me.  As soon as I see that first bottle of Pumpkin Spice creamer in the freezer section I must buy it.  And I absolutely love that pumpkin everything becomes a staple during the time of year when it's my birthday as well.  For years, I would request a pumpkin pie for my birthday "cake."  But enough of that, let's find out about pumpkins.

Pumpkins are a squash, native to North America.  They are grown for food as well as recreation (Pumpkin
Chunkin' anyone?).  They typically weigh 6-18 pounds, but some of the largest pumpkins are known to weigh more than 75 pounds!  They grow on a flowering vine. 95% of the pumpkins that are grown for consumption come from a farm in Illinois, owned by the processing company Libby.  And get this, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown each year!  That's a lot of pumpkin!

Pumpkins contain similar nutrients to carrots and other squash - lutein, alpha and beta carotene, and vitamin A.  Here are a few health benefits from Pumpkins:

1. A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision.

2. Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.  A fiber-rich diet seems to help people eat less and shed pounds.

3. Pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in phytosterols that have been shown to reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

4. Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, the same nutrient in turkey that makes you take that Thanksgiving nap!  This amino acid also aids in the production of serotonin which helps moods.

5. Pumpkins contain potassium.  In fact, they contain more potassium than a banana!  A cup of cooked pumpkin contains 564 mg of potassium, while 1 cup of banana contains 422 mg.

So there's a little ditty about pumpkin.  Not only do they make awesome Jack o' Lanterns and pie, but they seriously do a body good!

Pumpkin Recipes:

Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Pie Waffles
Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Pie

Resource: Huffington Post