One Food, Five Ways

It’s that time of year again — when ev­ery cof­fee shop res­ur­rects their su­per-duper pump­kin spiced latte con­coc­tion and pump­kin pie is po­si­tioned front and cen­ter in the bak­ery aisle. But pump­kin is more than a sea­sonal treat: With only 50 calo­ries per cup

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Pump­kin is more than a sea­sonal treat. With a host of sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits, it should ap­pear on your plate all year. Here are five ways to en­joy this fall fa­vorite.

1. AS A RE­COV­ERY AGENT Ounce per ounce, pump­kin has more potas­sium than ba­nanas, help­ing you re­bound from a hard work­out by restor­ing elec­trolyte bal­ance and re­duc­ing blood pres­sure. Some stud­ies even link pump­kin to preser­va­tion of mus­cle mass and im­proved bone den­sity. Add ½ cup of pump­kin to your post­work­out smoothie to reap the re­cov­ery re­wards. 2. AS A VI­SION-BOOST­ING BREAK­FAST Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, 1 cup of pump­kin con­tains 200 per­cent of your daily need for vi­ta­min A, help­ing pro­tect the sur­face of your eye, pro­mot­ing healthy vi­sion and slow­ing the de­cline of reti­nal func­tion in those with cer­tain de­gen­er­a­tive eye dis­eases. Pump­kin also con­tains a ton of beta carotene, which con­verts to vi­ta­min A in the body, and which may quell in­flam­ma­tion and re­duce the risk of cer­tain types of can­cer. Try our Pump­kin Chia Pud­ding recipe for a peeper­im­prov­ing break­fast. 3. AS A HEALTHY RECIPE SWAP Pump­kin puree is a su­per swap for oil or but­ter when bak­ing, re­duc­ing calo­ries and adding an abun­dance of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and fiber. Use a 1:1 ra­tio when swap­ping for oil, and trade ¾ cup of pump­kin for ev­ery 1 cup of but­ter. 4. AS A FIBER-FULL SNACK Pump­kin seeds con­tain 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce, help­ing lower the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease while boost­ing meal sati­ety and pro­mot­ing healthy di­ges­tion. Buy raw, hulled seeds at the store, or save your jack-o’lantern guts and roast your own: Wash the seeds, then bring to a boil in a sauce pot. Re­duce heat and sim­mer for 10 min­utes, then drain seeds and pat dry. Toss with a lit­tle olive oil and a pinch of salt, then roast at 325 de­grees for 15 min­utes, toss­ing once. 5. AS A SOOTH­ING SOUP Move over tur­key: Pump­kin also con­tains tryp­to­phan, the amino acid that helps pro­duce sero­tonin, a brain chem­i­cal that plays a large role in mood reg­u­la­tion, re­lax­ation and sleep qual­ity.

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