Story by: Maggie Roetker on November 9, 2017
Pumpkin season is in full force. Most people are looking forward to that traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, but why wait? Pumpkin has so many health benefits that you may want to make it a staple in your diet.
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which is turned into vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A can help your body fight infections and viruses, as well as promote eye health. Beta-carotene also is thought to play a part in reducing the risk of prostate, colon and lung cancers.
High-potassium foods like pumpkin can be good for your heart, too. Potassium has been shown to help lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of stroke.
Need more fiber in your diet? Pumpkins can help with that as well. One cup of raw pumpkin has a whopping 6 grams of fiber. Depending on which canned pumpkin you choose, 1 cup has up to 7 grams.
“That fiber can help with digestion and bowel movements,” Wiedmar said. “This fiber also slows sugar absorption into the blood, which is good for those with diabetes. Fiber also makes you feel fuller, which can help with overeating and weight gain.”
The bottom line: It’s about convenience. It’s certainly less expensive and faster to purchase a can of pumpkin puree. Using fresh will give you a different flavor and possibly moisture content. At the end of the day, it’s all about preference.
If you open a can of pumpkin and don’t use it all, what do you do with the leftover? You can store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or, freeze it in individual portions. For best flavor, use frozen pumpkin within three months.
Pumpkin is a great option for incorporating into baked goods such as muffins and breads. It even can be used as a substitute for butter. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, use ¾ cup pumpkin.
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