Pumpkin. Fall wouldn’t be Fall without this robust, bright orange fruit that mimics the colors of the season, at least those that we see in images of the East Coast! Even if our weather doesn’t conform to the eastern part of the United States, we enjoy our pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie as much as the next person. Actually, there are some pretty valuable nutrients in pumpkin, and some of them offer unique benefits to eye health.
Pumpkin, which its rich color and flavor, is one of the beta-carotene foods we want to eat more of. When we eat beta-carotene, it converts to vitamin A, and vitamin A has a number of benefits to eye health, in particular. This vitamin slows the progression of degenerative conditions throughout the body, which means it can protect us against macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Additionally, this nutrient supports corneal health.
It may not seem like pumpkin would be a vitamin C type of food. We usually consider citrus fruits for their C-value. But there is actually 12 mg of vitamin C in 1 cup of this Fall fruit. Like vitamin A, vitamin C also supports the eyes against degenerative conditions.
The Zinc in Pumpkin supports a healthy retina, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes from harmful wavelengths of light.
Keeping it Real
Just because a package, menu, or recipe lists pumpkin as an ingredient does not mean your body will reap all the healthy goodness of this fruit. In order to do that, you need to make sure you’re eating the real deal. Pumpkin pie made with pure, pureed pumpkin is an excellent source. The only caveat is that this tasty treat may be loaded with sugar, as well.
Some ideas for healthy pumpkin-packed dishes include:
- Oatmeal pumpkin waffles, pancakes, or muffins.
- Baked pumpkin seeds.
- Roasted pumpkin in just about any dinner dish.
- Homemade pumpkin chai latte.
Even on Maui, the Fall season brings a lot to enjoy (what season doesn’t?). Wishing you and your family health and wellness through the holidays and beyond.