Chock-full of nutrition, pumpkin is the basis for favorite fall treats
Pumpkin doesn’t only make attractive jack-o’-lanterns; it’s a fruit (and yes, as a squash, it’s considered a fruit) that’s chock-full of nutrition.
These orange giants offer a hefty dose of fiber — good for losing weight, keeping your bowel movements regular, and reducing your risk for diabetes.
Plus, pumpkins contain a lot of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A. Eating foods filled with beta-carotene may help lower your risk of metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes — according to a 2015 study in the British Journal of Nutrition. And studies suggest that a higher intake of beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of lung cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Beta-carotene is not only good for keeping your heart and lungs healthy, but it also can help your vision. One study in Nutrition Reviews suggests that beta-carotene, along with zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, and copper, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Pumpkin is great to add to soups, sautés, and, of course, desserts. Here’s a healthier version of pumpkin bread studded with dark chocolate chips.
This recipe uses whole wheat flour and agave syrup instead of refined sugar. It doesn’t call for any oil (pumpkin is moist enough by itself), and it uses egg whites instead of whole eggs, which is helpful if you’re watching your cholesterol. Dark chocolate, which has less sugar, is also healthier than semisweet chocolate, and it gives you a dose of beneficial antioxidants.