Pumpkin Is Easy on the Waistline — and Other Surprising Benefits

6 ways to put more pumpkin on your plate
Pumpkin Is Easy on the Waistline -- and Other Surprising Benefits

Hold that whipped cream. Who says the only way to enjoy pumpkin is in pie?

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Fall’s great gourd is so healthy for you that it shouldn’t be reserved just for Thanksgiving dinner. According to Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, a dietitian in Cleveland Clinic’s Section of Preventive Cardiology & Rehabilitation, pumpkin is good for your:

  • Eyesight and immune system. That’s thanks to vitamin A, which is naturally packed into pumpkin. Eating a single (1 cup) serving of pumpkin can provide 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of the vital nutrient.
  • Heart. Pumpkin’s potassium and antioxidants can help prevent heart disease – as well as some cancers.
  • Cholesterol. Plant sterols in pumpkin seeds can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. So can the omega 3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides (blood fats) and blood pressure.
  • Weight. Pumpkin is easy on your waistline, with only 50 calories per cup. The same portion also provides 3 grams of fiber, which can keep you feeling fuller longer.

Ways to roll pumpkin into your everyday diet

Rolling pumpkin into your everyday diet isn’t hard. Julia recommends you:

  1. Roast pumpkin in the oven for a side dish.
  2. Stir pureed or canned pumpkin into soups or sauces (even tomato sauce) to thicken them. Pumpkin can even replace fats or carbohydrates in your recipes.
  3. Substitute pumpkin for fat or oil in breads, muffins and pancakes.
  4. Add pumpkin to plain or vanilla yogurt with some pumpkin spice and a dab of honey.
  5. Mix pumpkin into a smoothie.
  6. Toast pumpkin seeds to top a salad or roasted vegetables.

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