STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – It’s autumn, and pumpkins are a bright, seasonal fixture in many households. Pumpkins are more than a festive decoration – they are very nutritious, according to nutrition experts at the Villas of Manalapan, N.J., a luxurious independent- and assisted-living senior community near Staten Island.
To underscore the wonderful benefits of this popular squash, the health- and wellness-centric adult community is highlighting the following six pumpkin-related topics:
1. PUMPKIN HISTORY
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America over 7,500 years ago.
The first pumpkin seeds were discovered in the Oaxaca Highlands of Mexico. These pumpkins did not closely resemble what we know as pumpkins today. They were small and hard with a bitter flavor. They were ideal for storing during cold weather because of their solid thick flesh.
The pumpkin pie dessert began during the 1800s when it became trendy to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during holiday meals. These first pumpkin recipes used pumpkin shells that had been scooped out and filled with ginger-spiced milk and roasted over the fire.
2. PUMPKIN NUTRITION
This squash is rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.
Pumpkin is also rich in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, folate, and fiber. The best way to enjoy the nutrition in pumpkin is to hold off on preparing with added sugar and processing, and instead prepare more wholesomely, such as roasting the pumpkin or seeds, enjoying pumpkin hummus or pumpkin soup.
3. PUMPKIN HEALTH BENEFITS
The vitamin A in pumpkin promotes healthy eyes and eyesight, as well as lowers risk of certain kinds of cancer.
The nutrients in pumpkin strengthen the immune system, helping immune cells to ward off germs and speed wound healing. The potassium in pumpkin is helpful in reducing high blood pressure, and lowering risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes. Don’t forget about the seeds, as they are packed with minerals that raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
4. PUMPKIN ‘PICKING’
When choosing for cooking, the larger pumpkins generally are stringy and less flavorful – so choose a smaller pumpkin.
Inspect the stem to determine freshness. Look for firm, dark green stems and avoid those that are brown, soft, or dried out. Check the firmness. Check for soft spots and look for a leathery and firm skin. Listen to your pumpkin! The best pumpkins have a deep hollow sound when you tap them. Place your ear next to the pumpkin, knock on the side with your knuckles and listen; the louder the sound the better the pumpkin.
5. PUMPKIN PREPARATION AND STORAGE
Wash and dry your pumpkin, and wipe down with a weak bleach or vinegar solution.
For cooking, slice pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, then scoop or slice out the flesh. For carving, find a design and use pumpkin carving tools to start creating your jack-o-lantern.
6. PUMPKIN RECIPES
Fresh pumpkin can be roasted, baked, cooked, or pureed. The seeds can also be roasted for a delicious snack. To minimize sugar intake, enjoy your pumpkin in a savory way.
Try pumpkin chili; a pumpkin pasta bake; pumpkin soup; pumpkin risotto; chicken quesadillas with pumpkin; pumpkin pasta sauce; slow cooker pumpkin lentil curry; black bean enchiladas with pumpkin sauce; pumpkin, macaroniand cheese with roasted vegetables; pumpkin beef stew, or savory pumpkin hummus.
About the Villas
The Villas is an upscale, world class resort-inspired apartment community offering a range of amenities and services sensitive to the lifestyle, health and daily needs of seniors. Orchestrated by Hackensack Meridian Health, the complex is uniquely focused on wellness and prevention – and ideal for singles and couples alike. The luxurious 100,000-square-foot community offers a unique arrangement of supervision and increased healthcare with onsite physician services. Embracing independent-living, assisted-living, skilled-nursing and memory-care needs on specialized floors, the Villas eliminates the need to relocate elsewhere due to health issues, allowing couples to remain together in a comforting, well-managed, posh environment. The Villas is located at 289 Gordons Corner Road, Manalapan, NJ 07726. For information, or to schedule a tour, the Villas may be reached at 732-847-3920, contacted via www.villashmh.com/contact, and visited online at www.villashmh.com.
This article provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this article, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or other health care worker.
Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
The views expressed in this article have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice or other institution with which the author, or authors, are affiliated.
Media Contact: Barton Horowitz