Trick or Treat – Pumpkins Are a Treat for Your Vision!
When you’re slicing those sinister slits for your jack-o-lanterns eyes, and carving those carnivorous teeth, chew on this for a minute: pumpkins are considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be a “superfood,” and are not only great for scaring up screams on your hair-raising stoop and making pies, but nutrient-rich, powerhouse treats for your eyes.
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Which isn’t to say you’d be thrilled to knock on a neighbor’s door this Halloween and be handed a pile of zeaxanthin in place of a Snickers bar, as frightening as that might be, but what you may not know at the time is that you were just handed one of the most common carotenoids found in nature.
Synthesized in plants and some micro-organisms, zeaxanthin produces the pigment that gives paprika, corn, and saffron their characteristic color, as well as providing antioxidant benefits that can reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
And what about those other chilling treats? Along with zeaxanthin, pumpkins also contain:
- Vitamin A which serves to protect the cornea of your eye, and improves your ability to see in low lighting.
- Vitamin C is famous for its contribution to reducing the risk of macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of adult blindness.
- Lutenin is another antioxidant and carotenoid much like zeaxanthin, and related to beta-carotene and vitamin A. Both can reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, and filter out harmful high-energy wavelengths of light from your eyes.
- Zinc is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body after iron. It’s present in every cell, and is highly concentrated in your eye, particularly in the retina, playing an essential role in delivering vitamin A to the retina.
While “pumpkin” may be ubiquitous in the candy aisle and fancy coffee menu boards throughout the season, you probably know better than to think any of those pumpkin treats are anything more than tiresome tricks. Most “pumpkin” confections – lattés, candy corns, pumpkin candy bars and the like, have tons of sugar and very likely no real pumpkin in them at all.
The power of pumpkin cannot be reduced to a trifling latté. Superfoods like pumpkin are meant to be indulged in whole, with all their nutrient-density intact. Entire diets are built to improve and support your eye health including pumpkins and other squashes, carrots, kales, collards, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, salmon, tuna, eggs, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, oysters, and pork.
Whatever Your Pumpkin Pleasure
There are countless recipes out there for fresh pumpkin pies, breads, even pumpkin deviled eggs! Perfect for Halloween!!
Whatever your pumpkin pleasure, eat plenty of pumpkin for your eyes! Try this smoothie recipe if you’re looking for a place to start, and Happy Halloween!
- Milk – ½ cup dairy, soy, almond, whatever you like.
- Pumpkin puree – About 12 oz. homemade or canned.
- Yogurt – ½ cup plain yogurt without all the sugar.
- Banana – 1 fresh or frozen banana, but frozen work the best.
- Chia seeds – Another superfood!
- Ground cinnamon – A pinch.
- Maple syrup – To taste.
- Vanilla extract – ½ teaspoon
Simply throw all the ingredients in a blender and whisk away! The trick is to get the right consistency so add a bit more pumpkin or a few more chia seeds to make it creamier, or a bit more milk to make it smoother. The treat is the fact that it tastes amazing and is super good for you!