When I was young, we would buy our pumpkins the day before Halloween. We carved one and kept the others fresh to enjoy around Thanksgiving.
But nowadays, it can be slim pickings if you wait that long. I remember I once tried to find a pumpkin the day before Halloween when my daughter was young and there were none to be had. Instead, we had to settle for an elongated yellow squash (which is actually the same species as pumpkin and typically used in canned “pumpkin” fillings). My daughter called it “pumpkin man,” because it eerily looked more like a carved head than the traditional jack-o-lantern.
Fortunately, this year (and most years since), I stocked up earlier. So, now, even the day after Thanksgiving, we’re still enjoying some fresh pumpkin meat as well as the pumpkins seeds, which have significant health benefits…
Health benefits associated with pumpkins
Pumpkins are the quintessential autumn vegetable. In fact, they have one of the longest growing seasons of any North American food—up to 125 days. And they’re among the last crops harvested in the fall.
Of course, Native Americans used pumpkins and squash—together with beans and corn—as part of their three-crop farming system, which they called “The Three Sisters.” They also made a very nutritious dish out of the three vegetables, called succotash, which New Englanders still enjoy today.
This dish also provides a complete source of protein. (Typically, plant sources of protein are incomplete, meaning they don’t contain all the different amino acids needed for human nutrition. But when consumed together, these three vegetables make an exception to that rule.)
Early American colonists also learned to enjoy pumpkins…
They used the healthy inner flesh in stews and pies. And they roasted the highly nutritious seeds, which are a good source of much-needed minerals like magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are also highly beneficial for the prostate, as I reported in the October 2019 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Men: Protect your prostate and slash your risk of other chronic diseases with this fall favorite”). Not yet a subscriber? All it takes is one click!
And if you’ve never roasted your own pumpkin seeds before, it’s actually very easy to do. After cleaning off the pulp, dry the seeds out on a towel, toss with olive oil and salt, then roast in the oven at 325°F for 10 minutes.
Some people even crack the dried, roasted shell and extract the soft, inner seeds. But I prefer to eat the roasted pumpkin seeds whole, along with the shell for the added nutrition (especially fiber) and crunch. So, it’s really up to you!
Pumpkin spice—much more than a flavor of the month
At this time of year, you see “pumpkin spice” lattes and treats just about everywhere you turn.
But it’s far healthier to sprinkle the single ingredients behind that pumpkin spice flavor directly into your home-brewed black coffee and creamer for a seasonal treat, which includes:
- Ground cinnamon
Plus, by adding these fresh spices directly to your food and drinks, you’ll benefit from all their medicinal properties. For example…
Allspice is widely used in cooking throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. You make it by grinding the dried, unripe berries dropped from the native pimento tree. Like other pumpkin spices, allspice contains compounds that reduce inflammation and help stimulate digestion. It also contains important minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, copper, selenium, and magnesium.
Cinnamon blocks inflammation-promoting compounds in the body, including unhealthy fat metabolites (such as arachidonic acid) and toxic biochemicals (such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha, often involved in systemic inflammation). The best-known variety, called Cassia cinnamon, thins the blood, helps prevent blood clots, and controls blood sugar.
However, if you take a blood thinner drug, you should use the other variety of cinnamon called Ceylon. It will give you the anti-inflammatory benefits without potential drug interaction side effects.
Cloves improve digestion. They work by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. They also help reduce flatulence, gastric irritability, dyspepsia, and nausea. Some research suggests they even help control blood sugar levels. You can roast cloves and eat them with honey. Clove oil is also great for toothaches and removing skin growths.
Ginger, like cloves, can help soothe your digestion. And in China, men and women have used ginger to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, and pain for more than 3,000 years. It’s probably one reason why ginger plays such a prominent role in Asian cooking to this day.
In the West, we have our own ginger remedies. In fact, when you were a child, did your mom or grandmother give you a glass of real ginger ale to settle your upset stomach? That might not have been a bad idea back in the day, when ginger ale actually contained some real ginger. But nowadays, most options on the market contain artificial ginger flavoring. (They can call it “natural,” but that word, among others, on a label is misleading, as I explained in the September 2019 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter [‘Cage-free, grass-fed, organic…oh my!’].) Instead, I recommend adding a few slices of fresh ginger root to hot water to soothe an upset stomach.
Nutmeg, like many of the other spices on this list, helps reduce inflammation. In fact, nutmeg oil slows the production of COX-2, which is the same way ibuprofen and some other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work. Nutmeg tea also eases digestive discomfort. But beware, some accounts suggest that nutmeg at high doses can cause hallucinations. Also, pregnant or nursing women and infants should not take it.
So, now that we’re officially in the middle of the holiday season, go ahead and use these pumpkins spices liberally in your cooking. They’ll add flavor to your foods and offer some impressive medicinal benefits as well.
In addition, you can learn all about the remarkably fast and easy ways to reverse inflammation, the No. 1 cause of disease and aging, in my online learning protocol, Dr. Micozzi’s Protocol for Eliminating Deadly Inflammation. To learn more, or to enroll today, simply click here!
“Five uncelebrated spices to add to your anti-inflammatory arsenal,” Elephant Journal, 8/3/2017. (elephantjournal.com/2017/08/5-uncelebrated-spices-to-add-to-your-anti-inflammatory-arsenal/)
“13 Surprising Benefits of Cloves,” Organic Facts, 10/11/2017. (organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-cloves.html)
“Allspice nutrition facts,” Nutrition and You, 11/10/19. (nutrition-and-you.com/allspice.html)