Autumn is here, and as the seasons change, so do the harvests. In the fall, local grocery stores and farmers' markets start offering an iconic (and bone-healthy!) gourd: pumpkin.
More than a decorative item, this food is a source of many bone-healthy micronutrients– including two powerful antioxidants you'll learn about today. And you'll get two delicious bone-healthy autumnal recipes featuring pumpkin.
How Healthy Are Pumpkins?
Pumpkins are not only an excellent food source, they're also one of the oldest domesticated plants. Native to North America, they were grown and harvested as early as 7,000 BC.
In contemporary America, pumpkins are linked to decoration instead of food, but you can't get any of the numerous bone-building vitamins and minerals from a pumpkin by looking at it! Here are the micronutrients contained in this member of the squash family:
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an immune system booster that's also essential for the formation of collagen, a protein that forms the flexible part of bones. Also an antioxidant, Vitamin C protects your body, including your bones, from oxidative damage.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A has many components including beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which, among its many functions, supports eye health, vision, immune function, and cell growth. It also helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.
- B Vitamins – Pumpkin is an excellent source of B vitamins including Vitamins B1(thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folic acid), and choline. This array of vitamins supports the generation of the Master Antioxidant glutathione, amino acid metabolization, cell membranes, and much more.
- Vitamin E – This vitamin helps build muscle tissue, which supports the development of stronger bones via exercise. Vitamin E (tocopherol) is also a powerful and highly-protective antioxidant.
- Calcium – Calcium is the most crucial of the bone-building elements. It is principally responsible for bone strength, and pumpkin is an excellent plant source of this Foundation Supplement.
- Magnesium – Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 enzymatic processes throughout the body. It also regulates processes that are essential to bone health, such as the synthesis of protein.
- Potassium – Potassium is a powerfully alkalizing mineral that works to balance sodium in the body. This action protects your bones from the mineral depletion that follows acidification.
Pumpkins are more than just decoration. They're one of North America's oldest domesticated plants. Their vitamin and mineral content includes Vitamins C, A, E, and B- complex, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Two Fracture Prevention Antioxidants In Pumpkin
The brilliant orange color of pumpkins is hard to miss. Fittingly, the pigments that give the pumpkin its color are compounds that protect your eyesight.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are colorful compounds called carotenoids. This is the family of pigments responsible for the orange, yellow, and reddish colors in fruits and vegetables.
Both lutein and zeaxanthin are highly effective antioxidants. That means they protect your body against damaging molecules called free radicals. Free radicals, also called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), wreak havoc all across the body, including on bone tissue. In addition to protecting bones against oxidative damage, lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly adept at staving off free radicals that would otherwise damage your eyes.1
They have that specialized ability because they're the only dietary carotenoids that accumulate in the macula region of the retina. As a result, they help prevent a variety of conditions that negatively affect eyesight, including:
Reduced eyesight impairs your ability to see obstacles in your path and get around safely. The results are stumbles and falls– and that's when fractures happen.
This makes the lutein and zeaxanthin found so plentifully in pumpkins a major means of fracture prevention. These colorful antioxidants protect your eyesight, which allows you to move through the world with less risk of falling and breaking a bone.
Pumpkins owe their color to the carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds accumulate in the retina, where they protect the macula from oxidative damage, which helps prevent conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Two Recipes Featuring Pumpkin
Some might argue that it's always cookie season, but something about the cool air of autumn makes a tray of fresh-from-the-oven cookies sound especially appetizing. You'll be the star of the harvest festival with these 100% alkalizing pumpkin cookies!
Perky Pumpkin Cookies
- 1½ cups almond flour
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon stevia (adjust to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix the coconut oil, pumpkin puree, stevia, honey, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix until it forms a dough and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- With your hands, roll the dough into approximately 1½ inches balls. Place them on the cookie sheet and flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand, keeping them in a round shape and about 1/4 inch thick.
- Bake for 8-11 minutes. When ready, transfer to a wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before storing them in the refrigerator.
There's nothing quite so comforting on a brisk morning as a plate of hot pancakes. This pH-balanced recipe for pumpkin pancakes turns an indulgence into an excellent source of bone-building nutrients and eye-protective antioxidants.
- 1½ cups rolled oats
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large bananas, sliced (for topping)
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds (for topping)
- Olive or avocado oil as needed
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
- Lightly coat a frying pan with olive or avocado oil and heat over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add about 5 tablespoons of the batter for each pancake. Use a spoon to spread out the batter and cook for 2-4 minutes until the pancakes puff up a bit and there are a few bubbles along the edges.
- Flip the pancakes and continue cooking until golden brown. Reduce the heat if pancakes are browning too fast. Repeat until all batter is cooked, and serve with banana slices and slivered almonds on top.
What This Means To You
Don't miss the autumnal opportunity that pumpkin offers.
Protect your eyesight by enjoying this delicious gourd for its natural sweetness and abundance of lutein and zeaxanthin. Everyone will be in awe of your Perky Pumpkin Cookies, even if they're not familiar with their protective qualities.
If you want more recipes like these– recipes that build bone, protect your health, and leave everyone clamoring for more– then check out Bone Appétit (if you haven’t yet). Bone Appétit is more than just a cookbook; it's also a meal planner and it includes Blender Magic, a bonus that offers 30 bone-healthy smoothies, and Calcilicious for calcium-rich recipes.
Keep learning and gathering natural tools for your quest to prevent and reverse osteoporosis. You're on the right path!