Graphic by: Fabulous Arizona
“Autumn shows how beautifully it is to let things go” – unknown
It’s finally Fall which means it is officially the time of year for cozy sweaters, deliciously smelling candles, cool temperatures, and PUMPKIN SPICE. Now we all know pumpkin spice gets a lot of attention, but is it good for you? It seems like every-day there is a new pumpkin spice item that comes out. This includes cereal, Oreos, crackers, creamers, breads, and the ever-popular lattes. Don’t get me wrong they all taste delicious but what exactly is it? Pumpkin spice has no actual pumpkin in it at all. WHAT? Hold on, pumpkin spice doesn’t even contain have pumpkin? It is a blend of spices that consist of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and sometimes allspice. These spices alone aren’t inherently bad for you, in fact, they really have some great benefits. Benefits of pumpkin spice include cell protecting antioxidants, helping control blood sugar, numerous amounts of B vitamins, minerals, can help with digestion issues, contains anti-inflammatory agents, and even has some fiber. The problem is that the items that include “pumpkin spice” generally are high calorie and high sugar products.
We all know highly processed foods are largely packed with ridiculous amounts of sugar. One pumpkin spice latte contains upwards of twice the daily limit set by the American Heart Association. These process foods can contain natural and artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives, which are linked to increased risks of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and even asthma. Of course anything done in moderation is generally safe, but then again, why risk it when you can get benefits from the real thing.
If you don’t want to add to your waistline this season let’s talk about the good stuff. Actual Pumpkin. Pumpkin falls under the squash family and is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the skin all the way to the seeds. Pumpkin is known for its high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. These include carotenoids and beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A and aids in the creation of white blood cells, and Vitamin E. This helps boost immunity and can help with the inevitable sickness that comes with back to school and cooler weather. Cooler weather also means dry skin however the vitamin e found in pumpkin can help improve how your skin looks and feels. These vitamins and antioxidants also play a role in cancer prevention. The beta-carotene can improve tissue health and detoxify the liver. A single cup of pumpkin contains more than twice the recommended daily value needed of Vitamin A that can help improve eyesight. Not to mention pumpkin has anti-inflammatory properties.
More benefits of pumpkin include: weight management, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and can help keep your skin glowing. This is due to the amounts of fiber and potassium found in pumpkin. Think about it. When you eat pumpkin the fiber helps slow the rate of sugar absorption into the blood that helps you stay full for longer helping control blood sugar levels. The potassium plays an important role in keeping the sodium in your diet under control helping with your blood pressure. Lastly, pumpkin is great for your heart health. Besides the antioxidants listed above, it is also a great source of omega -3s. Omega-3s are great for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol significantly improving the health of your heart.
So how can you get the best of both worlds? Try these recipes below for the benefits of pumpkin season without wreaking havoc on your body from today’s processed food trends. Not much of a baker? Simply add the ‘pumpkin’ spices or real pumpkin to your yogurt, oatmeal, squash, potatoes, or coffee.
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