10 Health Benefits of Pumpkins You Didn’t Know (And 32 Creative Ways To Have Pumpkin)

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

Why You Need a Vision

Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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How to Create Your Life Vision

Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

What Do You Want?

The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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Some tips to guide you:

  • Remember to ask why you want certain things
  • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
  • Give yourself permission to dream.
  • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
  • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

Some questions to start your exploration:

  • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
  • What would you like to have more of in your life?
  • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
  • What are your secret passions and dreams?
  • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
  • What do you want your relationships to be like?
  • What qualities would you like to develop?
  • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
  • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
  • What would you most like to accomplish?
  • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

A few prompts to get you started:

  • What will you have accomplished already?
  • How will you feel about yourself?
  • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
  • What does your ideal day look like?
  • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
  • What would you be doing?
  • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
  • How are you dressed?
  • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
  • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
  • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next step. Give yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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Plan Backwards

It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

  • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
  • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
  • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
  • What important actions would you have had to take?
  • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
  • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
  • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
  • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
  • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

When PSL season rolls around, you know it’s going to be a great couple of months. However, there’s no reason why pumpkin should only be savored when it’s “trending.”

Pumpkin has a ton of healthy benefits to add nutrition to your diet and boost the taste of pretty much anything you’re craving. Sweet or savory—it complements both and is pretty low in calories, making it an excellent diet food. As if you needed more excuse to dig into pumpkin-spiced goodies all year long, here are five awesome benefits of your favorite orange-colored food.

1. It’s high in vitamin A…

Eating pumpkin is good for your peepers. “One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is an important vitamin for eye health and night vision,” says Maggie Michalczyk, RD.

Pumpkin’s bright orange color comes from its high beta-carotene concentration, she explains, and beta-carotene is a carotenoid (an antioxidant) and a precursor of vitamin A. Beta-carotene also helps protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays, so it’s great for keeping skin youthful and fresh.

2. …and it’s packed with vitamin C, too

“Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant known for strengthening the immune system and boosting collagen production (one of the reasons why you see so many skin products with pumpkin in them!),” she says. What’s more, it also improves iron absorption and studies show it reduces oxidative stress, which can prevent premature aging. One cup of pumpkin contains 19 percent of the recommended daily intake.

Photo: Unsplash/Cala Maffia

3. It’ll fill you up fast

“It’s recommended that Americans get between 25-35 grams of fiber per day (different depending on age and gender), which is something most of us do not get enough of,” she says. Since pumpkin is high in fiber, with one cup containing about 7 grams, it’ll fill you up and benefit your health.

“Fiber is needed for healthy digestion, it helps to lower cholesterol, and keeps us fuller for longer,” she says, so it’s a pretty important nutrient to get in the diet. And if you can get your fill with delicious pumpkin, why not?

4. It’s great for your muscles (and before bed)

“Pumpkin also contains magnesium, a mineral that many of us are not getting enough of and that is very important for many functions in the body like energy creation, muscle relaxation, and nervous system regulation,” she says. So, eating pumpkin after a tough workout can be especially helpful in recovery.

“Magnesium is especially important for active people working out a lot because during exercise your body redistributes magnesium to accommodate metabolic needs,” she says. That means you may be losing the magnesium stores in the muscles and must replenish them through food and drink.

In just 1 cup of pumpkin, you’ll get 14 percent of your daily value. And pumpkin seeds contain 37 percent of the daily requirement, so don’t toss those when you’re carving a pumpkin, she says. You can also add raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt for more magnesium and a boost of plant-based protein.

5. It has more potassium than a banana

“Pumpkin is high in potassium, a mineral necessary for muscle contraction, good digestion, water balance, and a healthy blood pressure,” she says. So, it’s pretty important, and people may forget to eat enough of it. As with magnesium, if you’re active and are depleting electrolytes, like potassium, it’s even more critical to restore levels. There’s over 500 milligrams of potassium in a cup of canned pumpkin—more than what you’d get in a large banana.

How to enjoy pumpkin when it’s not in season

Pumpkin is a super versatile vegetable, and you can easily put it in just about anything to add texture, flavor, and nutrition.

“Canned pumpkin is available year-round for as little as 99 cents in some grocery stores. My golden rule is to always have a can in your pantry for adding to things like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, soups, chili, quesadillas, yogurt, energy bites, homemade face masks, and healthy desserts like these pumpkin chickpea blondies,” she says.

For the face mask, “pumpkin puree goes great with manuka honey and cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice (mix together and keep on your face for 10-15 minutes and then rinse off) or you can also do a homemade sugar scrub with pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and little bit of honey,” she says. (It sounds too good to simply lather on your face and not eat, though, right?)

You can also use pumpkin as a swap for eggs in recipes, such as baked goods, quick breads, muffins, cookies, and more. “Pumpkin puree can also double as a butter, oil, and egg replacer when modifying recipes for dietary restrictions. For reference you can replace 1 egg with 1/4 cup pumpkin puree,” she says.

Whatever you’re looking for, pumpkin can totally be a staple in your pantry all four seasons of the year. Super good for you and tasty, it can always use a little more year-round love.

When you are able to get your hands on fresh pumpkins, here are 6 tips for picking and cooking the nutrient-dense gourds. And to add some anti-inflammatory power, try this pumpkin-turmeric soup.

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Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkins are not just good for making soup and pies. It can be juiced uncooked and makes a highly nutritious drink useful for prevention of many common conditions.

Another very interesting fact is that pumpkins are monoecious plants, this means they have both sexes (male and female flowers) on one plant. The female flower can be easily identified with having a small “ovary” at the bottom of the petals.

In the United States of America, the pumpkin has been used over the centuries for both food and recreation. Pumpkin pie is the popular traditional Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkins are also carved out to be made into Halloween’s Jack O’ Lantern.

Nutritional Benifits

Pumpkins are so “cheerful looking” with their bright colors. Its yellow-orangey skin and flesh is packed with the carotenoids.

Pumpkin is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and the B vitamins and dietary fiber. Mineral wise, it’s rich with potassium, iron, calsium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc.

Health Benifits

This bright-colored, gourd-like squash is so rich with nutrients that makes it a very valuable vegetable from the health perspective.

Anti-inflammatory effect: Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that are very useful against the arthritis and joint inflammation.

Asthma: The anti-oxidants effectively protects the respiratory system from infections and free-radical attacks, reducing and healing asthma attacks.

Atherosclerosis: The highly cleansing power of this orange-colored juice helps scrub away the old build-up of arterial deposits, reducing the risks of heart diseases and stroke. The high anti-oxidants preventarteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Bone health: Pumpkin is rich also in calcium. I would make a pumpkin juice with carrots and broccoli that makes it so healthful for bone development.

Cholesterol: Pumpkin has high amounts of phytosterols that is similar to our human cholesterol. It can replace and normalize the cholesterol to a healthy level.

Depression: One of the cause of depression is the lack of trytophan in our diet. Pumpkin is rich with L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our body cannot manufacture. When this chemical compound is supplied, it activates the feeling of happiness and well-being, reducing the depressed mood.

Dietary fiber: The bulk that pumpkin flesh provides is helpful dietary fiber that aids in gastrointestinal disorders for example indigestion, constipation etc. It also facilitates in lessening the blood LDL cholesterol level and regulates the blood sugar level.

Diuretics: Pumpkin juice (juiced uncooked) act as an innate diuretic, which is very useful for getting rid of toxins and useless waste materials by flushing them out of the body. It can be included as a detoxifying food.

Eyesight/vision: Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the finest nourishment that help keep the optic system in tip-top condition, with special protection against astigmatism, macular degeneration and cataracts.

Immune system: It does wonders for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells; building resistance to various kinds of infections.

Kidney stones, prevent: Pumpkin seeds are also great for the kidneys. By taking about 5 – 10 grams of pumpkin seeds daily prevents stones formation in the kidneys.

Parasites: In traditional Chinese medicine, pumpkin seeds are ground into powder form to be drunk with the juice for the treatment of parasites or tapeworm infection.

Peptic ulcers: Pumpkin has all the right mix of medicinal properties that are calming to the gastrointestinal tract, healing to digestive conditions and peptic ulcers. In this case, best to take in the nutrients in juice form.

Prostate cancer: The high content of zinc and carotenoids in pumpkin and its seeds help protect against prostate cancer. These compounds prevents enlargement of the prostate and over-stimulation of the male hormones that cause prostate problems.

Skin: The high quantity of anti-oxidants in the form of vitamins A, C and E, and zinc, provide the synergistic healing virtues that are great for the skin. These healthful properties are best obtained by drinking of its juice regularly.

Consumption Tips

Generally, pumpkins are available for purchase throughout the year. To select a pumpkin for cooking, choose a heavy one as it has smaller space in the middle which means more flesh.

Pumpkin is mostly used to make soups or pie. Not many people know that it can be juiced and drunk in its raw form, let alone daring to try it. But it has all its nutrients and enzymes undisturbed in its raw form. Here’s a nice pumpkin juice recipe you can make using uncooked pumpkin.

Pumpkin has a pretty much long life if it is stored properly in the refrigerator. Wrap it carefully with newspaper to retain the moisture.

Caution

Some people may be allergic to pumpkin seeds. Try a little to see if there is any reaction to your body, especially if you’ve never eaten pumpkin seeds.

What are the health benefits of pumpkins?

Share on PinterestThe beta carotene in pumpkin may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Pumpkin has a range of fantastic benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta carotene.

Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. The body converts any ingested beta carotene into vitamin A.

Consuming foods with high volumes of beta carotene may have the following benefits:

  • reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer
  • offering protection against asthma and heart disease
  • decreasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration

Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods, such as pumpkin, decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help a person avoid diabetes and heart disease, promote a healthy complexion and hair, increase energy, and a healthy body mass index (BMI).

Research has demonstrated the following health benefits:

Regulating blood pressure

Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.

Results of a 2017 study of 2,722 participants suggested that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium in the treatment of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Typically, reducing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, consuming more potassium may also reduce the risk of other types of CVD.

More research is necessary to confirm the effects of pumpkin consumption on stroke and CVD risk.

Reducing the risk of cancer

A 2016 study suggests a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta carotene and tumor suppression in prostate cancer.

The results of a 2014 cross-sectional study also show that beta carotene slowed the development of colon cancer in a Japanese population.

Preventing and controlling diabetes

Including pumpkin in the diet may help people control diabetes and their blood sugar levels.

A 2019 study shows that a combination of two plant extracts, one of which was pumpkin polysaccharides, brought down blood sugar levels in mice.

Although the study did not involve humans, the research shows some potential for these plant compounds to limit type 2 diabetes.

Due to their impact on blood sugar, scientists may be able to rework them into an antidiabetic medication, though further studies are necessary.

Here, learn more about diabetes.

Protects against age-related eye problems

Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene support eye health and prevent degenerative damage in older adults.

The National Eye Institute conducted a clinical trial in 2019 called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

The results showed that high doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene had links to a significantly reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration.

What are the health benefits of eating pumpkin if I have diabetes?

A pumpkin’s orange pulp is a great source of vitamin A, fiber and potassium.

Roasted, baked or steamed pumpkin can be used in soups, dips, pies or other baked goods. Pumpkin seeds also make a great snack. They are high in iron and unsaturated fats. These unsaturated fats may help to lower cholesterol levels when they replace saturated fats and trans-fat in the diet.

The best pumpkin for cooking is a “sugar pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin.” Their flesh is sweeter and less watery than the flesh of larger pumpkins.

Pick a pumpkin with 1 to 2 inches of stem left. If the stem is cut down too low, the pumpkin will decay quickly. Each pound of raw, untrimmed pumpkin will result in about a cup pumpkin puree.

Following are tips for preparing and cooking pumpkins:

  1. Cut your pumpkin in half, remove the stem, scoop out the seeds and scrape away all of the stringy mass.
  2. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and rinse the chunks in cold water. Place the chunks in a large pot with about a cup of water (the water does not need to cover the pumpkin pieces).
  3. Cover the pot and boil for 20 to 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Check for doneness by poking with a fork. The pumpkin should slide right off the fork prongs with little or no resistance (similar to testing boiling potatoes to see if they are cooked).
  4. Drain the cooked pumpkin in a colander.
  5. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, remove the peel using a small, sharp knife.
  6. Put the pumpkin pulp in a food processor and puree or use a potato masher to form a pumpkin puree.

Most of us typically experience pumpkin at a few very specific times of year — carved into funny faces on front porches at Halloween, and baked into super-sweet pumpkin pie at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

This is a shame, because this vividly-colored veggie has so much more to offer!

Pumpkin comes in different colored skin varieties and is packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, and it’s a great replacement for other ingredients in many recipes.

Pumpkin isn’t a super low carbohydrate food, but it isn’t as starchy as some vegetables, so it does have a place in a healthy diabetic diet (in moderation). In the info below, we’ll discuss the nitty-gritty of how, when, and why to incorporate this orange nutritional superstar into your meals.

  • Pumpkin contains a moderate amount of carbohydrates – there are 7.5 grams in one cup of cubed pumpkin.
  • It’s relatively high in fiber – there are 3 grams in one cup.
  • It’s low in calories – one cup will give you just 30 calories!
  • Pumpkin contains moderate amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
  • Its high potassium content makes it a great option for those looking to lower their blood pressure and/or get in some extra electrolytes.
  • Its beautiful orange color comes from the antioxidant, beta-carotene.
  • Pumpkin also contains other antioxidants, including vitamins A and E.
  • Pumpkin has a moderately high glycemic index of 75.

Potassium: This electrolyte can lower blood pressure, especially in people who already have high blood pressure. A cup of canned pumpkin will give you 11% of your recommended daily amount (RDA).

Beta-carotene: This antioxidant is converted to vitamin A in the body. It’s great for keeping your immune system strong and your skin and eyes healthy, and it can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Vitamins C & E: These antioxidants can protect your vision and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Fiber: Pumpkin’s high fiber content means it can help keep you fuller longer.

Research on Pumpkin

Both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds contain a range of compounds that have hypoglycemic effects (blood sugar-lowering). The seeds in particular (which make a great snack) can be helpful in controlling blood sugar in people with diabetes. Similarly, pumpkin paste has also been shown to be hypoglycemic. And it may slow both triglyceride accumulation and the overall progression of diabetes.

In animal studies a polysaccharide in pumpkin has been found to help control blood sugar control and lipid levels. And pumpkin seed powder has also been found to increase antioxidant activity.

Pumpkin contains phenolic phytochemicals and antioxidants that have the potential to reduce both high blood pressure and hyperglycemia-caused complications.

Virgin pumpkin seed oil is another truly amazing pumpkin by-product. Containing high anti-inflammatory properties, it’s been shown to reduce both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the development of atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of arteries), and therefore, may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Finally pumpkin seeds’ high phytoestrogen content may render them helpful in preventing and/or treating breast cancer.

Points for Consideration

If you are prone to hypoglycemia, it’s probably best to avoid eating pumpkin because of its hypoglycemic properties. Similarly, if you have extremely low blood pressure, pumpkin may lower it further.

And remember, pumpkin is not a super low carb food, so don’t overdo it or you’ll see your blood sugar levels rising.

Pumpkin in the Kitchen

Selection

When choosing a pumpkin to eat, you should look for very different things than you might focus on when choosing one to carve for Halloween! The best pumpkins to cook are often called ‘pie pumpkins,’ ‘sweet pumpkins,’ or ‘sugar pumpkins.’ These are much smaller than your typical jack-o-lantern gourd, with less watery pulp.

Select pumpkins that have one to two inches of stem – smaller stems mean the pumpkin may already be rotting or about to rot. Looks do matter here – avoid pumpkins with bruises or blemishes.

If you are eating canned pumpkin, make sure to choose unsweetened varieties; stay away from sugary pumpkin pie filling. And look for brands that don’t have any additives.

Storage

Uncut, whole pumpkins can be stored in your pantry or cupboard for several months but be sure to store them on their side so any moisture falls off and doesn’t sit near the stem and rot the pumpkin.

Raw pumpkin puree that you’ve removed from the pumpkin can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. If it’s cooked or if it came from a can, it can last up to seven days in the fridge.

Freezing your pumpkin in a sealed freezer bag or airtight container for up to eight months is another quick and easy option.

Uses

Pumpkin is a fantastic addition to soups and stews, and it’s a lower-carb substitution for potatoes in any dish. Pumpkin also makes a great addition to salads and can be baked and eaten hot or cold. Pumpkin seeds are a perfect salad topper and/or addition to healthy baked goods.

It can also be used as a substitute for ingredients like oil or butter in any baked good!

Cooking

Cut the pumpkin into large pieces and cover with a small amount of water (about one cup). Boil for around 20 minutes, or steam for 10 to 15 minutes.

Pumpkins can also be cut in half and baked in the oven for about one hour. Or cut into chunks will do the trick for oven baking, too.

Once the pumpkin is cooked, you can easily make it into puree using a food processor or hand blender.

Cutting Techniques

Carefully cut off the pumpkin stem and cut the pumpkin in half with a sharp knife. Scoop out the flesh and remove the seeds; set seeds aside if you are planning on using them.

Pumpkin Recipes

Clean Eating Chicken Soup

for the soup recipe.

Health benefits of pumpkin

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