Why we’re so pumped for Halloween…

Pumpkins may be better associated with transporting Cinderella to the ball or ghoul faces for Halloween, but we like to carve a little deeper and think a little bigger! This fairy-tale feature is better suited to the superhero title as a well-recognised and delightfully delicious superfood!
Originating from the cucurbitaceae family alongside squash, cucumber, melon and gourd pumpkins are grown on a creeping vine. They tend to reach the size of a football but have been known to hit a hefty 1054kg (world record!). It is thought that pumpkins were first present in Mexico. They’re a winter crop covered with an orange in colour outer skin followed by a thick flesh layer that is slightly paler. The centre of the pumpkin is hollow and filled with seeds held in suspension by orange fibrous strings. Pretty well made up if you ask us!
The seeds at the centre of the pumpkin are flat and oval shape. The actual seed is dark green but is enclosed in a yellow-white husk, which is removed before consumption. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. The antioxidants present in the seeds scavenge for free radicals in the body and so therefore help to reduce the risk of cancer. There is currently early stage research to suggest improved insulin regulations in a number of different animals after consuming pumpkin seeds. This research implies that pumpkin seed consumption may help those with diabetes. Manganese, phosphorus and magnesium are all present in the seeds and have all been linked to improved bone formation and tooth health.
Pumpkin flesh is also a great low calorie source of carbohydrate. The orange pigment to the flesh comes from an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Once the flesh is ingested the beta-carotene becomes vitamin A. Beta carotene is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and slow down the effects of ageing. Vitamin A is also known as retinol, it helps to form the retina. This is the part of the eye that allows vision in dim lighting. It’s must be the orange and the Halloween influence boosting our ability to see in the dark… Move over carrots!
Even post carving, pumpkins are packed with opportunity. You can roast the pumpkin flesh with the skin still attached to help boost the fibre content of your meal, making the perfect accompaniment to a succulent chicken breast or creamy curry. Diets rich in soluble and insoluble fibre have been proven to aid digestion which in turn can reduce the risk of digestive cancers such as bowl and colon.
So think before you bin this Halloween!

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