“Each year,” says a hopeful Linus, “the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch he thinks is most sincere. He has to choose this one!” While nothing more than a cape-clad Snoopy ever appears, the truth is that pumpkins are sincerely great on both flavor and nutrition.
Prepared correctly, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds can reduce inflammation and help you lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. A phytochemical (phenols) in pumpkin also helps relax blood vessels, and that lowers blood pressure.
And as you puree, bake, saute or boil this bright-orange gourd, you’re also getting loads of dietary fiber, beta carotene — the precursor of vitamin A, vitamin C, and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. If you don’t load up your homemade pumpkin puree (no canned stuff!) with loads of sugar (not necessary, it’s really sweet enough if you add in some nutmeg and cinnamon), you have a low-calorie treat. Three and a half ounces of pumpkin has about 25 calories, with no saturated fat or cholesterol; three and a half ounces of pumpkin seeds deliver 560 calories and 30 grams of protein. The seeds also pack a good supply of zinc and toast up really well. Here’s one of our favorite recipes.
Clean off the seeds and toss them with a bit of olive oil, garlic, cayenne pepper or lemon pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 250 F until golden and crisp — about 20-30 minutes. See how easy it is to get the Great Pumpkin to come to your house.
The You Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.