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Landscapes across the country are vibrantly changing to a colorful array of russet, orange, gold and shades of red. With that beautiful display of nature’s pageantry, is the excited anticipation of our fall season holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

It’s a time for wearing turtleneck sweaters, cool crisp mornings, apple picking, roasting walnuts, children romping joyfully in piles of raked leaves, and porches and walkways artfully decorated with haystacks, cornstalks and jack-o-lanterns.

Pumpkins are quite a fixture this time of the year, but they are more than just a decorating item or the main ingredient for the traditional pumpkin pie. They are amazingly, vitamin-packed, an all-natural vegetable and member of the squash family, and a wonderfully, nourishing staple you can use for pumpkin bread, ravioli, pie, pudding, pound cake, risotto, soup and even, homemade pumpkin beer.

The Health Benefits of Pumpkins are Invaluable

  • A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A, which decreases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • The Vitamin C in pumpkin (more than 11 milligrams in just one cup) can help boost your immune system.
  • Pumpkin pulp is a great source of fiber that can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.
  • They boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which can play a major role in decreasing the risk of lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast and skin cancer according to the National Cancer Institute.
  • They are rich in alpha-carotene, and the more you eat, the more it slows down the aging process.
  • The beta-carotene in pumpkins helps to prevent the progression of heart disease, stroke, free-radical caused complications of long-term diabetes and the increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with this illness.
  • Pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in Zinc, Vitamin E, and phytosterols, and have been known to reduce “bad” cholesterol.
  • The seeds are also rich in serotonin, which plays a major role in a “happy mood.”

Purchase a few extra ones this upcoming holiday season to use for not just a decoration staple, but for the nutritional value they offer as well. You may be surprised just how delicious they are for something other than Grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie. Click the following link to learn how to freeze pumpkin for future use correctly http://allrecipes.co.uk/how-to/193/how-to-freeze-pumpkin.aspx

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1. Katie Perera

United States

2. Trishawna Robinson

Scarborough, Canada

3. Leah Schulz

Fresno, CA, United States

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