As soon as the weather turns crisp and leaves start tumbling from tree branches to the ground, the pumpkin cravings begin. And though many pumpkin-spiced treats don’t actually contain any real pumpkin, this cheerful, orange fruit is worth seeking out. First of all, its health benefits are immense. And second, this glorious gourd grows extremely well in Pennsylvania.
In fact, pumpkins are grown on 1,330 of Pennsylvania’s nearly 4,000 vegetable farms. That makes PA number one in the country in terms of the number of pumpkin farms! In other categories, like yield, price and acreage, Pennsylvania ranks about fifth in the nation. Not bad, right?
To celebrate this autumnal delight, we want to share with you some of our favorite fun facts and health info about pumpkins:
10 Health Benefits of Pumpkins
- Pumpkins are a great source of vitamins A, C, E and B. Pumpkins are also considered to be a powerhouse full of the many minerals the human body needs on a daily basis, like fiber, potassium, calcium, copper and zinc.
- Pumpkins are a great addition to your repertoire if you are looking to shed a few pounds. Chock full of fiber and very low in calories, this fruit is the perfect combination to help you feel full longer.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, a cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which helps one’s vision, most especially night vision.
- After a hard workout, your body is craving plenty of nutrients to help restore itself. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains over 500 mg of potassium, which is needed to replace those electrolytes lost during that sweaty workout you just completed. Dig in!
- It’s widely believed that vitamin C is pivotal come cold and flu season. Adding pumpkin to your daily regimen will account for nearly 20% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
- At the heart of every pumpkin are loads and loads of delicious seeds. You might ask yourself how a handful of these seeds could possibly boost your mood on any given day. However, studies show that pumpkin seeds are full of the amino acid tryptophan, which is responsible for producing serotonin, a major component when it comes to our daily mood. Learn how to roast them here!
- Pumpkins have natural anti-inflammatory properties, making them a great addition to the diet of anyone with joint pain or chronic arthritis.
- If doctor’s orders are to reduce your cholesterol levels, you may want to seek out ways to add pumpkin to your diet. Pumpkins are known for their high levels of phytosterols, which can replace and normalize cholesterol back to healthy levels.
- Like other orange fruits and veggies, the great pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that may play a role in preventing certain types of cancers, says the National Cancer Institute.
- Pumpkin puree is a great and easy way to add pumpkin to your daily routine. By blending it into your homemade hummus or stirring it into a pot of stew, soup or chili, you could greatly increase your chances of adding this vitamin-rich powerhouse fruit into your everyday living.
10 Fun Facts About Pumpkins
- Pumpkins are 90% water.
- Pumpkins are fruit.
- 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year.
- A new world record for the largest pumpkin was recently recorded in Stillwater, Minnesota on October 9, 2010 with the pumpkin weighing in at 1,810.5 pounds.
- Pumpkins have been around for a long time! Seeds found in Mexican caves date back to 7,000B.C.
- Pumpkins grow on six out of the seven continents.
- Pumpkins were once recommended as a cure for freckles and a remedy for snake bites.
- Pumpkins are a good source of vitamin A and potassium.
- Pumpkins originated in Central America.
- In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
What are your favorite ways to use PA pumpkins? Do you enjoy them as decorations, or do you cook with them, too? Let us know!
- Feature photo: Pexels
- Multicolored pumpkins photo: Bigstock