Pumpkin power!

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin risotto – the options are endless, and endlessly mouthwatering. It’s finally pumpkin season, and the reasons to celebrate are many. Not only is pumpkin delicious but it also packs some powerful healthy perks, so here are seven reasons it’s OK to be totally obsessed with this season’s superfood…

Lower blood pressure: Pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens, which research shows are beneficial for preventing hypertension.

Sleep better: Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, the amino acid that contributes to post dinner sleepiness. Tryptophan is also responsible for helping the body make serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps you relax and unwind. Not only do pumpkin seeds promote better sleep, the serotonin will improve your mood.

Keep eyesight sharp: A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.  Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.

May reduce cancer risk: Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.  Food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than a supplement, even more reason to scoop up some pumpkin today. And the plant sterols in pumpkin seeds have also been linked to fighting off certain cancers.

Protect your skin: The same free-radical-neutralising powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free, Health magazine reported. According to the Mayo Clinic, pumpkins are an amazing source of vitamin A, an anti-aging nutrient that jump-starts your skin’s cell renewal process and increases the production of collagen for smooth, youthful-looking skin.

Help after a hard workout: Ever heard of bananas being touted as nature’s energy bar? Turns out, a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422.  A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.

Feel fuller for longer: A cup of the orange veggie provides a healthy dose of fiber – about three grams – with just 50 calories and no fat. High fibre foods promote satiety; since your body takes longer to digest them, they may encourage you to eat less overall.