COLORADO, USA — It’s officially pumpkin season, and along with the excitement of all that goes along with fall is the re-emergence of one of the most nutrient dense plants on earth.

Here’s three super star qualities of pumpkins, and even more ideas on how to use them.

Pumpkins can help in prevention of skin cancer

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology found that intake of vitamin A, carotenoid rich foods was associated with lower rates of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Pumpkin is a rich source of carotenoids, a compound that provides red, yellow and orange pigments to plants which has been found in other studies to help in the prevention of chronic disease, certain cancers and enhancement of eye health. Pumpkin also provides 200% of the RDA for vitamin A in just one serving.

Pumpkins can help you fight against the cold and may strengthen you during the flu

Pumpkins are sky high in vitamin C, a vitamin associated with enhanced immunity. Although vitamin C may not stop a cold from coming, studies show that high amounts of vitamin C may help shorten the duration. vitamin C is also commonly depleted during the flu, and helping your body stock up on pumpkin can help replenish those stores.

Pumpkins can help manage your weight

Look no further than the pumpkins beautiful seeds to get two main components associated with weight loss. High in fiber and protein, pumpkin seeds are a great snack option that will keep you fuller, longer.

Pumpkins can lengthen your life

Pumpkins are antioxidant powerhouses, attacking deadly free radicals and helping in the prevention of disease. Further, a study in the Journal of Archives of Internal Medicine found that high serum levels of alpha-carotene (a compound similar to beta carotene) was associated with a 14-year reduction of death.

How to use a pumpkins 

Seeds

High in manganese, fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, cooper and zinc.

  • Roast seeds with a little olive oil and sea salt and use them all week alone as snacks, or sprinkled on soups or salads
  • Make pumpkin seed pesto by mixing roasted pumpkin seeds with olive oil, garlic, basil or spinach.
  • Pumpkin seed butter can be made by using a strong blender to pulverize roasted pumpkin seeds. You can stop short of a seed butter and use the crumbled pieces to coat basked chicken, fish, or tofu.

Flesh

High in vitamins A and C, B6 fiber and Copper

  • Use the flesh of the pumpkin (seeded and pureed) to make soups, sauces, and dips such as hummus.
  • A simple search on the internet for pumpkin flesh recipes will provide you with literally hundreds of culinary options.

Skins (yes, really!)

  • Though the skins don’t have as much culinary versatility as the pumpkin’s other components, you CAN use the skin by. Peeling pieces of the skin and dehydrating in a machine or your oven to make pumpkin skin crisps!

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