The Power of Pumpkin

Consuming ½ cup of canned pure pumpkin (not the pie mix) per day will give your body a team of nutrients, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Pumpkin is also high in fiber, which makes it a particularly filling food.

THE CAROTENOID RESUME

Carotenoids are the potent antioxidants that give pumpkin its orange color. They are particularly easy for the body to absorb and convert to vitamin A. The benefits of carotenoids also include:

decreasing the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration

lowering the risk of certain cancers, including lung, colon, bladder, skin, cervical, and breast cancer

lowering the risk of heart disease

protecting your eyes and skin from harmful ultraviolet light

reducing inflammation

reducing the presence of damaging free radicals

STAY YOUNG WITH ALPHA-CAROTENE

Pumpkin also is one of the best sources of alpha-carotene. Emerging research suggests this nutrient may help slow the aging process in addition to its role in cancer prevention.

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH BETA-CAROTENE?

The answer is a big NO! While beta-carotene delivered through food provides numerous health advantages, supplementing can be very dangerous. A study called CARET (The Carotene and Retinal Efficacy Trial) was stopped almost two years prior to completion because of the negative effects of supplemental beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene found in food works together with other nutrients and can have a different effect on the body than an isolated dose. Supplements also contain much more beta-carotene than what you would find through normal food consumption. It’s important to realize that the body doesn’t absorb all of the beta-carotene we eat from food. Since we only absorb a percentage of what’s in the food, the risk of toxicity is minimal. Any time you take an isolated pharmacologic dose of a nutrient, the results can be undesirable.

If you take a multivitamin or another supplement that contains beta-carotene, make sure that the dose does not exceed 100% of the daily-recommended value.

PUMPKIN SOUP

Simmer 20 oz. of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth on the stove. Add ½ cup pumpkin along with finely chopped celery and onions. Season with black pepper and garlic.

PUMPKIN YOGURT

Add ½ cup canned pumpkin to 6 oz. of nonfat French vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on top with 2 tbsp. slivered almonds.

PUMPKIN OATMEAL

Prepare 1 serving of oatmeal with water as directed. Add ½ cup canned pure pumpkin, 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed, 2 tsp. brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon.

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