By Issy Hoffman

As we enter the autumnal months and Halloween springs fast upon us and we busily
carve pumpkins with our loved ones, I often think what on earth am I going to do with
the leftover carved pumpkin once Halloween has ended. Here I look into the benefits
of consuming pumpkin to bring another use of the glorious orange vegetable.

We know the pumpkin as typically a bright orange, round vegetable with a tough
smooth skin. The pumpkin is part of the squash family and can be deemed as the
most popular one of them all! Like many vegetables you can eat the whole pumpkin
when cooked, including the pulp, seeds and skin. While they are phenomenal for
carving with the family and provide hours of fun, they also have a delicious taste with
health benefits and nutritional value to go alongside this.

Pumpkins are a great source of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is important for digestion,
aiding in keeping us fuller for longer and has been associated with reducing type 2
diabetes mellitus. As a nation, many of us fall flat of the new
recommendations for daily fibre intake which is 30g per day. A portion of fresh
pumpkin cooked ranges to nearly 3 grams of fibre and canned up to 7g, which can
help us increase or hit that daily target.

The pumpkin holds a high content of vitamin A, C and E. More specifically vitamin A
has been linked to benefitting eye vision as it protects the surface of the eye, as well
as decreasing the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin C helps promote collagen
synthesis which is beneficial for glowing skin and healthy nails and hair. Lastly
vitamin E is known for its benefits towards the skin, which is why we see many
people using vitamin E oil on the body and face.

Beta-carotene is the wonderful antioxidant that gives the pumpkin its bright colour
and the precursor to vitamin A. Research has shown consuming beta-carotene helps
protect the body against free radicals and may lower the risk of developing cancer
and heart disease.

The vitamin C and E content in the pumpkin helps aid in immune defence by
performing numerous cellular functions within the immune system. Vitamin C is also
necessary for growth and repair throughout the body, helping the maintenance of
cartilage and bones as well as healing wounds. Likewise, because the body cannot
synthesise vitamin C itself, it is essential we consume it through dietary ways.

While the pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin C, E and A, it also provides for a
great source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B. Pumpkin can also
be a great substitute for a carbohydrate source on days where you may be less
active, due to its low-calorie content. Additionally, by consuming a serving (80g) of
cooked pumpkin, this can provide you with one of your five a day and you can mix
pumpkin into any meal of the day. Lastly, the pumpkin seeds inside contain a potent
amount of protein and plant based fatty acids which are vital for brain function and
regulating cholesterol levels.

So now you know the possible health benefits, why not try introducing pumpkin into
your diet and make more of your leftover pumpkin this autumn. My personal
favourites are a piping hot bowl of pumpkin soup or a slice of rich pumpkin pie. Find
what you like and enjoy the seasonal popular pumpkin!

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