For many of us, autumn means crisp weekends spent running through apple orchards, climbing wooden ladders to reach the tip tops of trees to fill bushel baskets with fresh apples.
Or does your family spend entire afternoons walking up and down the endless orange waves of pumpkin fields, meticulously inspecting each and every one to find the perfect pumpkin to adorn your front door steps?
Whether you do one or the other – or both – what many people may not know are the countless health benefits of both apples and pumpkins.
- One medium size apple counts for one serving of fruit (roughly one cup). The average adult should consume two cups of fruit on a daily basis, so eating one apple means you are already half way to your daily serving!
- Apples contain around four grams of soluble fiber, which makes for a filling snack. Eating one apple can help keep you fuller longer and prevent snacking, ultimately aiding in weight loss. Soluble fiber can also help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
- Apple skins contain flavonoids, antioxidants that can help ward off diseases including stroke, heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Pectin, another antioxidant in apples, can prevent high blood pressure, lower overall cholesterol levels and possibly prevent LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
- Apples can help wake you up in the mornings (one apple has the same effect on the body as one cup of coffee) and can boost your endurance levels during exercise.
- Pumpkins are low in calories and high in nutrients. One cup of pumpkin contains about 49 calories and three grams of fiber, which makes for a filling snack.
- Pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, strong eyesight and the immune system.
- Pumpkins contain potassium, an essential mineral that helps keep our hearts and muscles working properly. One cup of pumpkin holds roughly 550 mg of potassium (a banana has 420 mg). Try eating pumpkin after a hard work out to help restore electrolytes within the body.
- A favorite among many, pumpkin seeds are packed with multiple benefits. Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fat, vitamins and minerals including zinc. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds, helps produce serotonin. If you need an afternoon pick me up to fill you up and lift your mood, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds.
- Although many people think fresh produce is better than canned, fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin can be used interchangeably and still deliver all of the same health benefits.
Be sure to grab as many apples and pumpkins as you can when you visit the apple orchards and pumpkin fields this fall. These two foods can be enjoyed for both their beauty and health benefits!
With assistance from future RDN Ashley Martens
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