Are Pumpkin Foods Healthy?
Its the time of year for an onslaught of pumpkin products and not just pies and breads but a variety of pumpkin sweets, donuts, lattes, ice cream and even chocolate pumpkin candy. But its important to be aware of the good and bad ingredients found in all the pumpkin foods you consume.
Pumpkins Good Ingredients
The good news is that pumpkin is a good source for zinc, iron, copper, protein, magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese. It is low in cholesterol and high in fiber, Zeaxanthin, a fighter against impaired eyesight and age-related macular degeneration; and vitamin A, which is great for healthy eyes and skin and aids in fighting cancer. The seeds are also high in heart healthy phytosterols. All of these ingredients combine to make pumpkin great for growth, energy and a healthy immune system.
Watch The Pumpkin Additives
What you need to watch are all the additives and additional calories - that make pumpkin goodies taste good.
While typical pumpkin pies do contain several cups of healthy pumpkin, youll also find lots of high-calorie ingredients that can include heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweet pumpkin puree, dark brown sugar, and white sugar - not to mention the additional calories in eggs, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. And then theres the pie crust, the whip cream topping and the dollop of ice cream on the side.
The same caution goes for all of the other pumpkin coffees, goodies and desserts that are also packed with many of the ingredients above. Pumpkin-laced candy is still candy, cautions Suzy Weems, Ph.D., registered dietitian and professor of nutrition sciences in Baylor Universitys College of Health and Human Sciences. Pumpkin seeds are good for making you feel full, but the fat doesnt disappear when you roast and eat them. Also, be sure to notice how much pumpkin is really in pumpkin desserts so that its not just the flavoring. A pumpkin latte is not going to mean any fewer calories if its made with a full-fat milk or syrup. And pumpkin doughnuts still have sugar.
Pumpkin is delightful but it's not a magic bullet," Weems added. "Take a look at the total calories: If you have diabetes, you look at the sugar and total carbohydrates; if you have cardiovascular disease, look at the fat and always be sure to read the container or the wrapper."