Pumpkins Earn Superstar Status All Year Long

A real sign that fall is approaching is when pumpkin spice is included in so many delicious drinks and coffees, snacks and desserts as well as wonderful hearty and savory foods. Truth be told, pumpkins are not just for the fall. According to Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Tiffany Rios, of Shore Physicians Group, pumpkin is a superstar that can supply its delicious nutritional benefits all year long.

Why Is Pumpkin a Must Have Food?
As Rios explained, adding pumpkin to your diet packs a big benefit. “Pumpkins are a nutrient-dense food that are also low in calories. They are 90% water and contain 83 calories with less than 1 gram of fat. They are very high in fiber which takes the stomach longer to process. This helps you feel full for a longer time.”

Trust Your Gut
The mighty pumpkin packs healthy digestive benefits as well. “High fiber foods feed healthy gut bacteria which plays a great role in health and immunity,” said Rios. “It’s low in saturated fat and high in minerals like magnesium, which make pumpkin a healthy food choice. It is also loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that may help protect against cancer, fight inflammation and improve skin appearance. It can also increase the skin’s defenses against UV radiation.”

The Eyes Have It
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in vision by maintaining a clear cornea, the outside covering of the eye. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides 245% of the recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin A, according to Rios.

Pick Your Pumpkin
While we are thinking pumpkin pies and pumpkin spiced muffins, there are much healthier ways to get the nutrients from pumpkins and subtract all the sugar. That grande pumpkin latte that tastes so yummy at your favorite Starbucks packs a wallop. When it’s made with two percent milk and whipped cream, it adds up to 380 calories, not to mention 14 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association’s recommended daily allowance of sugar is 25 grams. Rios suggested a little cinnamon and stevia to give pumpkin a delicious flavor minus the sugar. But she suggested energy bites, pasta sauce, healthy cookies and roasted pumpkin seeds as excellent and varied ways to enjoy the best pumpkins have to offer.

Rios said adding pumpkin to a sauce and putting it over zucchini noodles, sneaking it into healthy cookies or even adding it to a smoothie are other great ways to incorporate pumpkin in your diet.

To make an appointment with Tiffany Rios at the Shore Physicians Group office in Northfield call 609-365-5300.