It's the season of pumpkin everything! From seasonal coffee drinks to front door décor, you're probably seeing pumpkins everywhere this time of year. The name pumpkin actually comes from the Greek word "pepon," which means "large melon." Pumpkins date back as far as 7,000 BC and originated in northeastern Mexico. They are one of the first crops to be cultivated in the United States for human consumption. John Josselyn shared one of the first American pumpkin recipes in the early 1670s, which was for a meal much like mashed potatoes. Sweetened pumpkin pie is the most common way to serve pumpkins today, but there are lots of health benefits we can get from incorporating pumpkin into our diet.
High in fiber, pumpkins are great for our heart health and help to regulate our blood pressure. In just one cup serving of canned pumpkin, you can get 7 grams of fiber. Another benefit is that fiber helps us remain full longer, which can aid in keeping our blood sugar from spiking.
Pumpkins are also said to be one of the best sources of beta carotene. This nutrient is responsible for its orange color! Beta carotene has a range of health benefits which include helping protect us from asthma and heart disease, lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, and avoid developing diabetes.
Let's not forget about their high level of vitamin A! One cup of pumpkin contains 200% of your recommended daily vitamin A intake. This nutrient makes up rhodopsin, which is a protein that helps us see in low-light conditions. If we're deficient in vitamin A, the American Academy of Opthalmology warns we can develop night blindness.
Our last health benefit is all about potassium! We can get about 10% of our daily recommended potassium intake in just a half-cup of canned pumpkin, which is believed to help lower blood pressure. Did you know that potassium is an electrolyte? It works to help our bodies remove sodium and relax the walls of our blood vessels.
Ensuring we have the right amount of nutrients in our diet is crucial to our long-term health. So the next time you see a pumpkin, we hope that you'll remember this post and all of its health benefits!