By John Lustyan
What did Linus know that the rest of the Peanuts gang didn’t? Whatever it was, he and Charlie’s little sister, Sally have missed out on the festivities and assorted treats of Halloween since it first aired in 1966.
Here’s what we know …
The Great Pumpkin doesn’t rank very high in popularity polls. In the same way Santa Claus overshadows The Great Pumpkin during the holidays... so too, do most other foods at the table.
Relegated to its role as the final menu course on the last Thursday of November each year, pumpkin pie is synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner. But, in the same way we should be thankful throughout the year for the many blessings in our lives ... perhaps, The Great Pumpkin deserves more respect.
During Halloween, television brings us images of rolling fields dotted with orange and that rare pumpkin weighing over a thousand pounds. (Show me any other produce capable of such overachievement.)
And we can’t forget the corner pumpkin stands lined with bundled corn stalks, scarecrows and hot apple cider, inviting artists of all ages to choose their favorite canvas.
Is there more to The Great Pumpkin than meets the eye?
Like melons, cucumbers and squash; pumpkins are gourds. They are members of the cucurbitaceae family, noted for their fleshly fruit and sometimes, as in the case of pumpkins, their flowers, leaves and seeds.
Proving beauty is more than skin deep, pumpkins are low in calories at about 45 calories per cup. They are a bountiful source of vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients. Although, considered a starch, pumpkin flesh is a preferred, complex carbohydrate, rich in dietary fiber with no cholesterol or saturated fat. For all of these reasons pumpkin is recommended to support dietary goals of both weight loss and lowering cholesterol.
Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin
Even before dessert, pumpkin has many uses such as for soup, stews and even a steamed vegetable.
- As is common with orange vegetables, like carrots, pumpkins are rich in carotenes, antioxidants known to strengthen and support healthy immune systems. Carotenes are considered a cell communicator, facilitating proper cell division and may slow the aging process.
- Alpha-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A. It promotes healthy eyesight ... potentially aiding in the prevention of cataracts and reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
- Beta-carotene is long recognized as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supporting cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic reports it contributes to hair growth and may aid in reproduction, even addressing problems of infertility.
- It’s loaded with B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin and pantothenic acid ... supporting improved energy, cognitive function and may reduce the risk of stroke.
- Pumpkin is rich in potassium. Identified as a mineral that’s “crucial for life” by webmd.com ... Low potassium is associated with a risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and infertility.
- Its high fiber content supports healthy digestion, weight loss and may lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- The presence of zinc strengthens the immune system and supports improved bone density.
Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Great as a snack or added to salads, pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids.
Like pumpkin flesh, pumpkin seeds:
- Contain high levels of zinc and their potential to improve bone density may also protect against osteoporosis.
- Possess anti-inflammatory properties.
- They may help alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate and contribute to overall prostate health.
- The presence of L-tryptophan can make you feel relaxed, drowsy and may even play a role in fighting depression.
- Recent studies indicate they prevent the formation of kidney stones.
(cited at http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=e0498803-7f62-4563-8d47-5fe33da65dd4&chunkiid=21459#ref57)
- Loaded with magnesium, they support:
- The proper function of muscle contraction and relaxation.
- The performance of certain enzymes in the body.
- The regulation of blood sugar levels.
- Increased energy production and transport throughout the body.
- Pumpkin seeds also contain phytosterols, plant-based compounds shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol by aiding in its absorption in the digestive track.
Maybe next year, Linus
For 44 years, Linus has faithfully remained diligent in pursuit of The Great Pumpkin. Yet, he may never discover the wisdom of The Great Pumpkin you’ve just learned. So to him this simple wish. Better luck next year!
Tell us, please ...
What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?