With Thanksgiving just around the corner, pumpkins are everywhere. Yet while the decorative use of pumpkins at this time of year is hugely popular, most people are unaware that pumpkins have incredible health and nutritional benefits. Frida Harju, in-house nutritionist at health and fitness app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com), has put together a list of some the health benefits of pumpkin and a recipe of spicy pumpkin soup:
Along with its many other nutrients, cooked pumpkin has high levels of potassium, even higher than that found in bananas, making it a great source of energy. The potassium also makes pumpkin a great post-workout food, as the potassium helps restore the balance of electrolytes in the body, which is essential for our cells, tissues and organs, in order for them to function at their optimum level.
Prevent High Blood Pressure
Not only does the soft inside of pumpkins contain numerous health benefits, but pumpkin seed oil is also known to be one of the three most nutritious oils. The oil contains high levels of the plant-based compound called phytoestrogen, which has proven to be hugely beneficial in preventing high blood pressure. The oil also contains essential fats, which play a vital role in hormone production and joint lubrication.
Boost Your Mood
Beyond the nutritional benefits, eating pumpkin seeds may even be beneficial for our mood. Pumpkin seeds are packed with tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for the production of the serotonin, the mood enhancing chemical in our body. This makes pumpkin seeds a great, natural mood enhancer, perfect for the gloomy autumn evenings.
Maintain a Healthy Hear
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of fibre, which is not only beneficial for the smooth functioning of your bowels, but also for your heart ,as those with high fibre diets are shown to have significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease. The seeds are also rich in phytosterols, proven to reduce the LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol.
Strengthen your Immune System
Nutrients such as folic acid, manganese, vitamin C and zinc, all known for helping strengthen the body’s natural immune system, are all found in high quantities in pumpkins. Not only this ,but riboflavin, the vitamin also known as B2, which helps the body fight off bacterial functions, is also found in pumpkins, making them the perfect vegetable for warding off illness.
Fridas favorite spicy pumpkin soup
1 normal sized pumpkin, butternut squash or other
3 normal sized carrots
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 vegetable broth
a cup of water
a pinch of curry
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of cumin
a pinch of bell pepper powder
a pinch of cardamom
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of fresh grated ginger
1 cup of light cream for cooking
a pinch of salt
Do as follows: Chop the onion and garlic and fry in a saucepan with coconut oil or olive oil. Peel and chop the pumpkin and carrots, and add the pumpkin and carrots in the pan. Add all the spices, water and broth and let it boil for about 20 minutes – until the vegetables have softened. Use a hand blender or mash the vegetables in the pan. Put it on the heat again and add the cream, let it simmer until it has a good temperature. Season with a pinch of salt and serve together with some dark rye bread with cream cheese on.