Get out of your mind that pumpkins are only for October, which are cake filling or a seasonal decoration. "Pumpkins provide plenty of nutrients, especially at this time of year, when we eat less fresh produce," says Liz Applegate, emeritus sports nutrition director at the University of California, Davis.
The orange pulp is loaded with carotenoids, plant pigments that act as an antioxidant in your body. They trigger small fires in your cells and prevent damage caused by ultraviolet rays, air pollution and other damage even extra oxygen during exercise, "says Applegate. One of these carotenoids is beta-carotene, which turns your body into vitamin A, a key nutrient for kidney function.
Even the seeds are rich in protein, beneficial fats and fiber, as well as vitamin E and vitamin E zinc, both of which can boost immunity to help you stay healthy over the winter. Zinc is of particular importance to fitness enthusiasts: Sports Medicine found that athletes generally have lower levels of minerals, although they include more zinc in their diet, suggesting active people may have one increased amount.
Buy all the sweet varieties. Slice, roast and dice, add curries, soups and frittatas. You can also treat it like a pumpkin: drizzle with olive oil and place on a grill pan. Pumpkin preserves are great for oatmeal and smoothies. Or well, bake a pie.