The Health Benefits Of Pumpkins
Why you should be eating pumpkins this fall, and 4 great places to pick them in Westchester.
Haven’t been apple- or pumpkin-picking in a few years? Revisit the tradition with an ulterior motive: your health. Don’t worry—the kids won’t mind.
Apples for Allergies & Weight-Loss
Certified holistic health coach Jodi Baretz of The Center for Health and Healing in Mount Kisco points out that apples are good sources of vitamin C, great for helping to lower cholesterol and promote digestive regularity. “One of the best health-boosting agents is found in apple skin,” she adds, noting its “natural anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties that can relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies.”
Where to Pick Pumpkins
See each location’s website for updated information about this year’s ripening schedules—some have more than 10 varieties that peak in stages through the last week of October.
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard
Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm
While a recently published National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey determined the risk of obesity in children ages 2 to 18 years old to be 25 percent lower in those whose diets included whole apples, the “forbidden fruit” is recommended in adult weight-loss plans, too. Snacking on a fiber-packed apple before a meal or on the run can help keep your appetite in check—not to mention the low-stress activity to be had winding through the orchard and lifting little ones up to taller branches.
Patch Your Health With Pumpkin
The ubiquitous fall fruit’s bright orange color is due to the antioxident beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. According to current research, a diet rich in beta-carotene may lower the risk of developing certain cancers and help ward off heart disease as well as some degenerative effects of aging.
Baretz suggests adding pumpkin to a smoothie for a delicious, healthy snack. One cup of naturally low-calorie cooked pumpkin, fresh or canned (avoid sugary canned pumpkin-pie mix), contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, as well as lots of vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Potassium supports heart health, helps keep high blood pressure under control, and is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, while the one-two punch of vitamin C and beta-carotene boosts immunity.
Pumpkin seeds, besides promoting prostate health, says Baretz, are especially rich in zinc, protein, omega-3 oils, and magnesium—high blood levels of which, French researchers have found, contributes to a 40 percent lower risk of early death in men, compared to those with low levels. Roast pumpkin seeds, shells on, simply (at 225°F for 10 minutes, advises Baretz) to take advantage of their natural flavor.
Baretz suggests roasting pumpkin seeds, or adding fresh or canned pumpkin to a smoothie. For apples, she says to whip up an antioxidant- and protein-rich Waldorf salad if eating ’em plain gets old. Just throw together celery, apples, grapes, and walnuts, mixed together over lettuce with Greek yogurt. Store apples in the crisper to keep them fresh.