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Powerful Pumpkins
Photo: Studiomill
The bright orange vegetable we love to carve up in October are popping up all over this time of year. Pumpkins are a favorite in the fall not just to make into funny faces but in America’s all time beloved pie. The U.S. produces about 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin each year. But, before you think there is only one way to consume this gourd (and gain weight), let’s take a look at some interesting facts about this golden globe.

Pumpkins are from the squash family and grow on every continent of the world except Antarctica but are often associated with America. Morton, Illinois is the pumpkin capital of the world and is home to the Libby food company.

Giant pumpkins have been bred over the years and the current world recorder for the biggest pumpkin in the world is held by Chris Stevens whose Atlantic Giant weighed 1,810 pounds!

Good to Eat

Pumpkins aren’t just for growing or carving up. They are good to eat. One of the highest sources of beta-carotene is found in these brightly colored vegetables and has been clearly shown to help prevent cancer. Pumpkins rank high in this nutrient along with Vitamin A, C and potassium. It’s a great source of fiber and can help curb your appetite by providing you with more food with fewer calories. One cup of puree pumpkin contains only 80 calories, zero cholesterol, and less than 1 gram of fat. Interestingly, about 90% of pumpkin is water.

There are a number of ways to enjoy eating pumpkin. When they are ripe you can boil, bake, steam, or roast pumpkin. The fleshy part is often used for pies, sauces and soups. You can eat the seeds and flowers of a pumpkin.

Pumpkin seeds are good for you and are a great source of protein and zinc. Some studies indicate they can help lower cholesterol and promote the overall health of the prostate. You will find L-tryptophan in the seeds which is a compound naturally used to help those with depression.

So, whether you’re ready to try pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin smoothies, or simply roast pumpkin, you can feel good about biting into this delicious squash this holiday season that will help you stay healthy.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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