Fall weekends are a perfect time for a visit to the pumpkin patch – and pumpkins can provide more than just a festive decoration. Kate Patton, RD, gives tips on how to enjoy the health benefits of pumpkin.
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CLEVELAND – Pumpkins are a classic symbol of fall, but a Halloween pumpkin can provide more than just a festive decoration.
According to Kate Patton, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, pumpkins are chock full of beta carotene, which is what gives them their orange color.
“In our bodies, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A, and vitamin A helps increase our white blood cells,” she said. “The more white blood cells you have, the better your immunity, which will really keep you healthy this fall.”
For those who are looking for ways to enjoy pumpkin, Patton recommends cutting it up, roasting it in the oven and putting it through a blender.
She said fresh cooked pumpkin can be added to smoothies, oatmeal or even yogurt.
Pumpkins are also a good source of fiber. Patton said adding some to a cup of yogurt in the morning will not only add flavor, but it can help keep you full until lunchtime.
Pumpkin can also be used in the kitchen by swapping the oil and butter in a recipe for pureed pumpkin – it has the same texture and consistency, but more health benefits.
And once the Jack-o-lantern is carved, don’t throw away those seeds, because they can also provide nutritional benefit.
Patton says the magnesium that is found in pumpkin seeds helps our bodies stay hydrated and also aids in cell function and energy production.
“Pumpkin seeds are a really good source of magnesium,” said Patton. “You can roast those seeds and add any spices you might like, or maybe just a little bit of salt, and that’s a great snack.”