The Wellness Revolution
The Health Benefits of Pumpkin
With Fall around the corner, so that means it’s pumpkin spice latte season! Pumpkin isn’t just for your latte though, did you know pumpkin has incredible health benefits, and some even consider it to be a super food? So here’s a list of reasons to opt for that second piece of pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin, real pumpkin that is, is full of antioxidants and nutrients including:
- Vitamin A. Necessary for healthy skin, eyesight, and immune function.
- Vitamin C. A vitamin that plays a key role in warding off respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and flu, and boosting our immune system. Vitamin C also plays a role in heart health; it is helpful in high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Vitamin E. An antioxidant that is essential in skin rejuvenation, respiratory conditions such as asthma, and is helpful in chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
- Riboflavin. Also known as vitamin B2, often prescribed for its usefulness in migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, and cataracts to name a few. Alcohol can deplete the body of this vitamin.
- Potassium. An essential mineral in heart health, preventing stroke, kidney stones, and osteoporosis. Excessive sweating, certain medications, and caffeine can deplete the body of this mineral.
- Thiamin. Also known as vitamin B1, it is helpful in Alzheimer’s disease, healing canker sores, and heart failure. Alcohol, tea/coffee, and pregnancy cause depletion.
- Vitamin B6. Is helpful in pregnancy related morning sickness, PMS symptoms, and depression. Alcohol and birth control pills cause depletion.
- Folate. An essential vitamin for pregnancy and fertility. It is also helpful in migraines, depression, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pantothenic acid. Also known as vitamin B5, it is useful in poor wound healing and aging skin.
- Niacin. A vitamin that plays a role in managing heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and rosacea.
- Iron. A necessary mineral for optimal blood production. You may be deficient if you have celiac disease, are vegetarian or vegan, or have had gastric bypass surgery. Sufficient levels of iron play a role in optimal attention, mood, and energy levels.
- Magnesium. A mineral that can aid in constipation, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, and heart function. You may be deficient if you have chronic heart failure, sweat excessively, have prolonged diarrhea, or have kidney disease or hyperthyroidism.
Pumpkin seeds also have unique health benefits including:
- Zinc. Helps boost immune system, heal skin conditions such as acne, and improves male fertility.
- Omega-3s. Are useful in persons with high blood pressure, anxiety and/or depression, and other mental health conditions. Omega 3s improve skin conditions, enhance brain function, and can be helpful for persons with dry eyes.
- Vitamin K2. Plays a vital role in bone and heart health. Blood thinning drugs, liver disease, and malabsorption disorders cause deficiency.
Pumpkin seeds can also be helpful in relieving the symptoms of overactive bladder and benign prostate hyperplasia, a common condition amongst older men. These seeds are also capable of lowering blood sugar levels, enhancing sperm quality, and improving sleep (they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that causes sleepiness, turkey also contains tryptophan).
The powerful antioxidants contained within pumpkins and their seeds help protect against disease, reduce inflammation, and improve energy, mood, and immune function.
Here’s a recipe for you to incorporate more pumpkin in your diet.
Pumpkin Oat Muffins
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- ¼ cup applesauce
- ¾ cup almond milk or soy milk
- 1¼ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/8 cup honey
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pans with paper cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon, mixing well.
- In another bowl, combine applesauce, eggs, milk, pumpkin puree and honey, mixing well. Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
- Spoon into the muffin cups, filling each one 1/2 full.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and serve warm.
About the Author
Dr. Kate Klein is a licensed naturopathic doctor and clinic director at Your Health Collective, an integrative wellness clinic located in the heart of Ajax. Dr. Klein and her team offer services including, naturopathic medicine, holistic nutrition, acupuncture, osteopathy, and psychotherapy to patients of all ages. Practitioners at Your Health Collective provide a collaborative approach to patient care through a variety of natural treatments and solutions for health concerns ranging from disordered sleep, allergies, fertility, headaches, digestive concerns, and much more. We believe that health is more than just the absence of disease; health is when we function at our best through proper nutrition, exercise, a balanced lifestyle, positive emotions, thoughts and actions. For more information about Dr. Klein, naturopathic medicine, or our clinic please visit: www.yourhealthcollective.ca