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

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

In the 6th grade, I won a 300 pound pumpkin through a raffle that my teacher held for us.

This was the biggest pumpkin I’d ever seen in real life! I was so stoked to have it, because nobody else in my neighborhood had one as big as this. Cutting it open and removing the insides was a primal experience. Carving it was exhilarating and I hardly had the patience to wait to get it on our front porch and show it off to everyone.

Then Halloween night came around, and the 300 pound pumpkin was on display on our front porch.  I’ll never forget that night.  Crowds of people hovered around to see the specimen. Some even took pictures. I was so proud of my pumpkin.

For nearly a decade after that night, that’s how I viewed pumpkin. It was something you carved out on Halloween and displayed for show. I never associated pumpkin as a food. Until I had it in my oatmeal (and I share an amazing pumpkin oatmeal recipe later in this post). Not only did I realize that pumpkin was delicious, I soon found out it’s an underrated super-food!

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Here are 10 reasons why:

1. You will feel fuller

Pumpkin seeds contain up to 1.7g of fiber, and mashed pumpkin has up to 3g of fiber per cup. Why is this important? First off getting 30-50g of fiber a day is recommended, unfortunately most people only get about half of that or less. Don’t worry, having some winter squash like pumpkin in your diet consistently (I’ll show you how you can do it at the end of this post) sets you up on the right path to hit your dietary fiber needs. Secondly, eating pumpkin increases satiation and helps you feel fuller longer, by slowing down digestion and regulating blood sugar levels.

2. You will sleep better

Pumpkin is rich in trytophan, an amino acid which gets converted to serotonin, which may also explain the post Thanksgiving sleepiness. Serotonin is the “feel good” neurotransmitter that helps you settle down, unwind and doze off to sleep.

3. You will have a healthy heart

Increased fiber intake can also help protect you from heart disease, research shows. In fact, one study of over 67,000 thousand women over a 10 year span, demonstrates that a diet high in fiber intake reduces the risk of heart disease.

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4. You’ll increase your prostate health

Pumpkin seeds should make their way in to every man’s diet for good reason. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men. One man in 7 are likely to get prostate cancer. Cancerous prostates show much less Zinc compared to healthy prostates and several studies have implicated impaired zinc status in the development and progression of prostate malignancy. Pumpkin is rich in Zinc; it contains more than 2mg per ounce which can contribute to the prevention of prostate cancer, research shows.

5. You will get magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that aids in many physiological functions like the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), relaxation of the nervous system, muscle growth and regulating bowel movements. And, 80% of Americans are deficient magnesium. Just 1 oz. of pumpkin seeds deliver about 30% of your daily recommended magnesium requirements.

6. You’ll feel the antioxidant benefits

Beta carotene, is a provitamin the body converts into vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with its ability to fend of cancer. Beta carotene is thought to play a role protecting cells, boosting the immune system and helping to keep the reproductive system healthy. Get some pumpkin into your life! A half cup of canned pumpkin packs 953mg of vitamin A and only 42 calories. 

7. When you eat some pumpkin, you burn the fat

Pumpkin is a great high nutrient, low calorie food. With only 42 calories per cup and loaded with fiber, pumpkin will keep you full longer, and regulate your blood sugar levels to keep food cravings at bay which helps you eat fewer calories and burn more fat.

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8. It’ll keep your eyesight sharp

A cup of pumpkin will meet your daily vitamin A requirements that aid in the integrity of your vision, especially in dim light according the National Institute of Health. 

9. You will have to eat less bananas

Bananas have made themselves popular for their potassium benefits.  But did you know that a cup of cooked pumpkin has 564mg compared to bananas 422mg?  Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and inactive reflexes, so switch it up and rotate some pumpkin into your diet instead of solely relying on bananas for potassium

10. It will boost your mood

Serotonin deficiency is a growing concern for many people. Researchers claim that it’s an epidemic  inflicting its unique dark cloud misery on people and it’s noted that 80% of people suffer from serotonin deficiency. The reason why serotonin is important to overall wellness is because it’s our primary defense against depression and anxiety. A simple way to make sure you’re producing natural serotonin is to include foods that contain the amino acid tryptohphan which gets converted to serotinin in your body. Pumpkin seeds contain loads of tryptophan which will help keep your outlook on life bright.

So how do you incorporate pumpkin into your diet?

You can do it in so many creative ways! Seeds, canned, cooked, raw, in a casserole, in a cookie. During the fall you can add canned pumpkin to almost any dish, and you have a seasonal autumn dish ready to go. I like adding canned pumpkin to my oatmeal. It’s quick, easy, nutritious and delicious. Here is my favorite pumpkin oatmeal recipe you can try.

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Don’t forget about the seeds: they are high in nutrition and super easy to prepare! After you remove the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin, rinse and dry them off.  Place them on a cookie sheet, sprinkle them with your seasoning of choice (Here are 5 great ideas for seasoning) and lightly roast at 160-170 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Lastly, here are 25 awesome and delicious ways to include pumpkin into your diet. Enjoy!

Featured photo credit: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/search/?contributor=Gorilla via bigstockphoto.com

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Last Updated on December 13, 2018

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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2. Select The Treats

Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

6. Get Out Of The House

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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8. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

9. Enjoy Yourself

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

10. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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11. Eat Less And More Often

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

12. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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