Written by Hammad Sadiq
Read on to find out the answers to some commonly asked questions such as:
* How can pumpkins help lower cholesterol?
* How can I incorporate pumpkins into my diet?
Pumpkins are an iconic symbol of autumn and are regularly purchased around Halloween time for carving, or arts and crafts, however, the British diet is seriously lacking in pumpkin-based recipes and we’re really missing out on its amazing benefits with some of us have never even tasted pumpkin.
With its bold orange colour and distinctive ribbed pattern, it’s no wonder most of us see them as a decorative item, however the amazing thing about pumpkins is that practically all of it is edible, from the skin to the flesh, all the way down to the seeds (and the oil made from them) which are delicious!
Can Pumpkins Help Lower Cholesterol?
Eating different parts of the pumpkin provides a rich variety of nutrients. Below we’ve listed for you the benefits of consuming each individual part of the pumpkin, and how cholesterol can be lowered if you incorporate this amazing fruit into your diet.
Pumpkin Seeds & Seed Oil
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids — all of which contribute to a healthy heart. The oil extracted from pumpkin seeds also hosts an amazing array of health benefits, packed full of vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, D, E, and K, magnesium, iron and calcium, it is also rich in and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
The best way to lower cholesterol naturally is to incorporate foods which are high in HDL cholesterol into your diet. These ‘good’ cholesterols take away ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from the arteries where they cause clogging and help the liver to break them down and pass them out, therefore lowering your overall cholesterol level. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil consumption is proven to increase HDL. Just using it in supplement form for 12 weeks has proven to have a 16% increase in levels of ‘good cholesterol’. The seeds also contain They also contain a compound known as phytosterol, which stops the body absorbing ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol.
It’s so easy to incorporate these wonderful benefits into your diet just by simply sprinkling some pumpkin seeds over your breakfast and drizzling your porridge, pancakes, or breakfast cereal with some tasty, sweet pumpkin seed oil.
Eating pumpkin flesh is a great way to pack plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals into your diet. The antioxidants in pumpkin can prevent the bad’ LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. This is great news as oxidation enables LDL cholesterol to clog up and line your arteries, which increases blood pressure and leads to a higher risk of heart disease. Therefore eating pumpkin can help to limit your cholesterol levels.
Pumpkins also contain other nutrients which reduce your risk of heart disease such as potassium. Potassium has been shown to help reduce blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Pumpkin flesh is so versatile, it can be used as a base for both savoury and sweet dishes and to liven up anything from cakes to casseroles.
How do I Incorporate Pumpkin into my Diet?
Read on for some great pumpkin-based recipes which are sure to liven up your day.
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cider or balsamic vinegar
- 175g halloumi cheese, sliced
- 500g diced pumpkin
- Bunch of mint, roughly chopped
- 6 eggs beaten
- Cook the halloumi for 1-2 mins on each side until golden, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan, then cook the squash for about 10 mins, until soft and starting to colour.
- Add chilli and garlic and cook in the pan for 2 minutes. Pour vinegar, then put the halloumi back into the pan, add mint into the pan and also and pour on the beaten eggs.
- Cook for a full 5 mins and the base should be set.
- Seat your grill to high. Place the omelette under the grill for 5 mins until puffed up and golden. Serve straight away or if you prefer it can be left to cool and serve cold with a salad.
Creamy Pumpkin Risotto
50ml olive oil
1 leek, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
210g arborio rice
950ml hot chicken broth
330g pumpkin puree
Black pepper and chilli pepper, to taste
1 Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add to the pan, leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the leek becomes soft to touch. Add in garlic and cook for around 2 minutes.Add bacon and fry until crispy.
2 Then add in the rice and cook, stirring, every few minutes until it looks toasted. Add to the pan 235ml of broth and cook, stirring continuously until it has been absorbed into the rice.Follow this process with the remaining broth and the white wine.
3 Add in the pumpkin, black pepper and chilli pepper, and cook for 2 to 5 minutes.
- NHS UK- Live Well, Lowering your cholesterol. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/lower-your-cholesterol/ Last accessed January 20192.
- BBC Good Food- The health benefits of pumpkin. Available: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-pumpkin Last accessed January 2019