Halloween: The health benefits of pumpkin

Pumpkins are everywhere around Halloween, but these close relatives of squash can be used for so much more than just carving. Rich in fibre, protein, potassium and vitamins, there are plenty of ways to make the most of them after the holiday is over. Nutritionist Alex Thompson has rounded up the ways they can boost your health, while skincare pro Liz Earle reveals the beauty benefits.

Pumpkin: Holland & Barrett’s nutritionist Alex Thompson shares 6 health benefits

Keeps your eyesight sharp
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene. 250g of boiled, cubed pumpkin contains the equivalent of more than 100% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin A, which helps good vision, skin health and also normal functioning of the immune system.

Promotes a healthy weight
It’s a source of fibre, which can promote a feeling of fullness at mealtimes. Including bulky, low calorie foods at mealtimes can help to control portion sizes and overall calorie intake. 250g of boiled, cubed pumpkin also contains only around 50kcal.

Keep your heart healthy
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols and are also high in unsaturated fats. A diet high in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats has been shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels.

High in Protein
Pumpkin seeds, along with hemp seeds, have the highest protein levels for any nut or seed, both providing around 30g of protein per 100g. Protein promotes the maintenance of muscle mass and also supports bone health.

Helps support mood
The seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid which the body uses to make serotonin – a neurotransmitter needed for the maintenance of normal mood.

Rich in potassium
250g of boiled, cubed pumpkin contains over 500mg of potassium (over a quarter of your RDA). Potassium contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure, muscle function and the nervous system.

Liz Earle on making the most of your pumpkin:

Blend their brightly coloured flesh into silky smooth soups, chop it up to add to a pan of roasted veggies, make a pie or eat simply sliced, brushed with oil and grilled.

Pumpkin seeds, dried and roasted, add a rich flavour and crunchy texture to many dishes. Sprinkle over winter salads, warm bowls of soup or use with olive oil and a dash of lemon for a tasty salad dressing.

The seeds also make the perfect on-the-go snack. Liz says to look out for heavier pumpkins, as they will have more flesh and a smaller hollow at the centre. They store well at room temperature and keep well, but once cut are best kept in the fridge.

The autumn 2015 edition of the Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine is available now from lizearlewellbeing.com.

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