Pumpkin is a fall favorite and for good reason. This superfood may be low in calories, but it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are crucial for a well-balanced diet. Heat up some soothing pumpkin soup, add pumpkin puree to your smoothie or oatmeal, whip up some pumpkin protein bars, or simply snack on some roasted pumpkin seeds to reap the benefits. Read on, and fall in love with pumpkin all over again.
Packed with protein.
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein. When compared with nuts such as almonds and walnuts, an average serving size of pumpkin seeds contains 1.5 times as much protein. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is .8g/kg of body weight daily for an average adult, but endurance athletes may need anywhere from 1.0g/kg to 1.6g/kg depending on weight and exercise intensity. Protein is vital for athletes, as it plays a crucial role in muscle growth, repair, and recovery. Additionally, protein is responsible for the production of hemoglobin, which delivers oxygen to the muscles during exercise. Stash a handful of pumpkin seeds in your pack to refuel between sessions or munch on some of these hearty seeds after your workout to ensure your body gets the protein it needs.
Potassium is the third most prevalent mineral in the human body and has been used by athletes for decades to help prevent cramping. While bananas are a popular source of potassium, one cup of pumpkin contains 564mg of potassium—100mg more than the banana! Potassium works alongside sodium to balance the fluids and electrolytes in your body. Breaking it down to a cellular level, potassium is stored within your cells and sodium is stored on the outside. However, due to their different concentration levels, sodium wants to get into your cells and potassium wants out. When you surf, more and more potassium finds its way outside the cells, causing your body to feel weak and bloated and your muscles to cramp. But consume some potassium-rich pumpkin in conjunction with water and your body is able to counteract the imbalance and return your cells to normal.
Pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and minerals that work to boost your immune system. Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, a mineral that works to fight off colds and infections. In order to make the zinc easier for your body to absorb, try soaking your seeds overnight in warm water.
In addition to the health benefits of the seeds, a serving of pumpkin puree contains 8% of your daily dose of riboflavin. Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a micronutrient that helps the body fight off bacterial infections. Pumpkin also contains vitamin A which works to promote healthy eyesight, as well as protect the body from infections by keeping the skin and tissues in your stomach, mouth, intestines, respiratory, genital, and urinary tracts healthy. Chow down on some pumpkin and spend less time in bed and more time on the water this cold and flu season.