Rejoice, fall fans: it's pumpkin time. If autumn is your thing, chances are you're excited about the endless food possibilities of the season. And if you're a pumpkin enthusiast, it might make you especially pleased to know that pumpkins come with a wide array of health benefits.
"Eating the whole pumpkin will provide maximum benefits, both nutritionally and autumnally," says Stephanie Papadakis, certified holistic nutrition consultant and founder of Gut of Integrity. That's because each part of the pumpkin offers unique and significant health benefits.
According to Papadakis, "Pumpkin’s dark orange flesh is an excellent source of carotenes, which protect against cancer, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease." Specifically, pumpkins contain a wealth of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in your body and is essential for promoting eye health.
And the fall wonder doesn't stop there. The flesh of a pumpkin is also chock full of vitamin C, B1, folate, B5, potassium, and fiber, according to Papadakis. Pumpkins are so rich in fiber, she tells Bustle, that a single cup of pure pumpkin will keep you full for longer than something with less fiber would (and many foods have less fiber than pumpkin). But how do you go about eating the flesh just under a pumpkin's shell, you ask?
Papadakis suggests that you make pumpkin's health benefits part of your broader fall experience. Creating autumn-themed dishes that feature pumpkin can enrich the experience, both nutritionally and emotionally. "If you’re looking to eat the flesh," she tells Bustle, "it can be used in a variety of ways: smoothies, lattes, soups, chili, roasted, as a healthy dessert (with cinnamon and a dash of maple syrup), or in a curry (and don’t forget to roast the seeds to use the whole pumpkin)."
If you've never experienced this joy, Papadakis has got you covered. "If you want to carve a pumpkin for Halloween," she tells Bustle, "scoop out the seeds first, clean off the goop, spread them flat on a baking sheet, add salt, and roast at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes."
Your taste buds will thank you, but so will your body. Because pumpkin seeds are more than just delicious. According to Papadakis, they also provide "a good source of magnesium (which is used in over 300 chemical reactions in the body), along with manganese, copper, protein, healthy fat, and many antioxidants."
But pumpkin flesh and roasted pumpkin seeds aren't the only things that pumpkin lovers have to celebrate in the fall. Pumpkin juice isn't just for a stroll through Hogwarts during Halloween: it's also great for you. While pumpkin juice, like all other juice, lacks the fiber-rich benefits of eating a whole fruit or vegetable, it still contains all the other nutrients of pumpkin. "For those that may be recovering from illness and have trouble eating or digesting food," Papadakis says, "fresh pumpkin juice could be a good way to reap all the benefits pumpkin provides."
This is exciting news, because if you're a fall-loving, "This Is Halloween" singing human, pumpkin in all its forms is bound to turn your fall up to 11. The high nutritional value of pumpkins makes them everything from a great autumnal meal to a fabulous fall snack.
Because all parts of a pumpkin offer something different, and awesome, for your body. So whether you're looking prevent inflammation, get a wide array of nutrients in one go, or improve your eye health, some part of the pumpkin's got you covered.