Almost every food company has tapped into the pumpkin frenzy, offering anything from pumpkin-flavored coffee and smoothies to pastries and granola bars. Pumpkin is unquestionably fall’s favorite flavor.
However, you don’t need to buy prepared pumpkin goods—and all their added sugar—to enjoy the flavor. After all, pumpkin is a very healthy vegetable on its own.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals. With only 45 calories in one half-cup serving, pumpkin puree is also calorie-efficient.
What’s So Great About Pumpkin?
You already know it’s a quintessential fall flavor, but what makes it so good for you?
Pumpkin contains the following nutrients:
A half-cup of pumpkin puree contains over 100 percent of your daily value (DV) of vitamin A, which supports immune function, eye and vision health, skin health and other functions.
Pumpkin is a great source of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, which strengthens the immune system. This antioxidant promotes wound-healing, aids in protein metabolism and lessens the negative effects of free radicals.
This powerful antioxidant that gives pumpkin (and carrots) its bright orange color is converted into vitamin A by the body.
This electrolyte supports healthy heart, neuron and muscle function. Additionally, potassium balances the amount of sodium in your body, which lowers blood pressure. The potassium content in a cup of pumpkin is close to 400 milligrams.
Pumpkin Isn’t the Only Healthy Fall Favorite…
As the weather starts to turn brisk, the autumn harvest produces a wide variety of root vegetables and tart fruits that are ideal to use in preparing warming dishes. Here are three popular fall options — besides pumpkin — packed full of nutrients.
According to the USDA, a medium apple includes over 4.8 grams of fiber, which provides around 17 percent of your DV in just 104 calories. The fruit’s skin also contains a significant amount of vitamin C and fiber.
The USDA estimates that a half-cup of chopped cranberries has around 2 grams of fiber or about 7 percent of your DV. Additionally, you get some vitamin C — about 7.5 milligrams, or 8.5 percent of your DV — in each half-cup. By these figures, cranberries qualify as a heart-healthy food that may lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Leeks are members of the onion family and are a wholesome, nutritious fall food. They contain many flavonoids, including kaempferol, which can protect against heart disease.
One cup of leeks contains only 54 calories and 1.6 grams of fiber. Leeks are a strong source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that may help prevent eye disease.
Nutrition is part of a healthy lifestyle, along with exercise, rest, and regular checkups. If you need help developing healthy habits, talk to one of Community Access Network’s healthcare providers today. Visit our website, call us at 434-818-7880 or stop by our clinic to make an appointment.