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Pumpkin packs a punch

HealthBy Sunday World
Pumpkin packs a punch

It’s hard to believe that Halloween is only a few weeks away. The shops and supermarkets will soon be filling up with foodie goods perfect for the festivities, with pumpkins top of the list. Carving the orange fruit has been a tradition for years, but they’re not just good for decorating the house. Pumpkins are incredibly rich in vital antioxidants and vitamins, making them a must for anyone wishing to follow a healthy, balanced diet. They carry vitamin A as well as antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin and carotenes in abundance.

Pumpkins are also very low in calories and contain no saturated fats or cholesterol, with many dieticians recommending them to people who wish to lose weight or keep an eye on their cholesterol levels.

Once you have carved all the flesh out of the pumpkin to carve it, put it aside to use in an array of different meals.

The great thing about pumpkin is that it’s so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Adding it to a curry is a great way of getting those extra health benefits. Put two pounds of pumpkin in a pan with garlic, raisins, softened onion, curry powder and vegetable broth. Cook for 15 minutes, then add frozen peas. Cook for a further ten minutes until the pumpkin cubes are soft, season and serve with wholegrain rice for a healthy, tasty meal.

For your sweet tooth, you can try adding pumpkin to muffins and oatmeal cookies for a healthier alternative to the classic pumpkin pie.

It isn’t just the flesh of the pumpkin that is beneficial to your diet; the seeds should also be incorporated into your weekly meal plan.

They are an excellent source of dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. The seeds are also concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. Try sprinkling them on salads or your morning porridge for an added boost.

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