In honor of Thanksgiving, the holiday that almost everyone indulges in a slice of pumpkin pie to top off their meal, we’re going to discuss the health benefits of pumpkin and some other options on preparation.

They are incredibly rich in vital antioxidants such as leutin, xanthin, carotenes as well as vitamins A, C and E.  Carotenoids are really good at neutralizing free radicals, nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave the cells vulnerable to damage.  Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.

While low in calories (under 50 calories per cup), pumpkin is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin and pantothenic acid.  It is also rich source of minerals like iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.  It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and is rich in dietary fiber which the body uses to control blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol and aid in weight loss.  That’s why dieticians recommend it for cholesterol control and weight reduction programs.

Other than the traditional pies, breads, muffins, or cookies, the healthful meat of a pumpkin can be used to make pumpkin ravioli, risotti, soups, stews, and custards.  The more daring foodie could experiment with different flavor combos like pumpkin quesidillas, or garlic knots.  However you cook it, it’s a healthful low calorie addition to anyone’s diet.

But we’re not done yet, who could forget roasted pumpkin seeds!  They are high in protein and also contain a number of a vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium phosphorus,  zinc and iron, which have a variety of health benefits, from protecting bones to treating arthritis. Studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil can reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), or enlarged prostate.

There’s no arguing that with all these benefits, pumpkin is worth keeping on your dinner table!