Pumpkin is More than a Halloween Decoration – It’s One of the Most Nutritious Fruits You Can Eat


If you’re like most people you encounter pumpkins three times a year. You –

  • Carve a Jack ‘o’ Lantern for Halloween and throw it out on Nov. 1
  • Buy a pumpkin pie from the bakery or the frozen food section of the supermarket for  Thanksgiving dinner
  • Buy pumpkin spice latte in the fall because it’s a modern, seasonal coffee rite

Ok, maybe you get pumpkin spice candles, too – or pumpkin-scented soaps. If you leave your yearly pumpkin consumption to these run-of-mill engagements, you’re missing out on a flavorful and nutritious post-Thanksgiving treat.

Pumpkin is More Than a Seasonal Oddity – It’s Good for Your Health

One of the most nutrient-dense fruits you can eat, pumpkin has:

 Potassium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia

It’s packed with dietary fiber to aid digestion and suppress your appetite by making you feel full longer

A serving of pumpkin has 17% of the DRV of Vitamin C, and no cholesterol, fat or sodium.

It has one of the highest levels of Vitamin A of any food – a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving of pumpkin puree boasts 246% of the daily allowance of Vitamin A. This sight-boosting antioxidant keeps your skin looking young and helps prevent lung cancer.

The orange pigment in pumpkin is called beta-carotene. It’s linked with Vitamin A for eye health, along with bell peppers, spinach and other colorful fruits and veggies. Beta-carotene helps you retain cognitive function as you age. Along with lycopene, another colorful antioxidant found in grapefruit, it’s been shown to neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.

NOTE:  Too much Vitamin A is toxic, so you don’t need to take a supplement if you eat lots of fruits and veggies with beta carotene and Vitamin A.

Few people consider pumpkin as a fruit to use year-round since pumpkin season only lasts October through December. Include this fruit in your cooking by using canned pumpkin the rest of the year. Look for sugar and syrup-free brands from Trader Joe’s  or Farmer’s Market 

You can make pumpkin pie or drink pumpkin smoothies any time of year. And don’t neglect pumpkin seeds!


Save Those Pumpkin Seeds- They’re Just as Nutritious as the Puree

Trade in potato chips or Cheetos for the antioxidant-rich, salt-free crunch of pumpkin seeds. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has 180 calories, and lots of wound-healing zinc. It also contains  74% percent of the DRV of manganese for strong bones and protection against cancer, plus sizable amounts of protein and iron.

And a quarter-cup of seeds has 48 % of the DRV of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds offer more magnesium than the DRV in Swiss chard, fish,  spinach or soybeans. Magnesium is essential for keeping your nervous system and muscles working properly.

Magnesium deficiency is a serious issue in the U.S., with over 80 percent of Americans not getting enough of this mineral in their diets. Lack of magnesium causes anxiety, muscle weakness, cramps, heart problems, dizziness and close to a dozen other ailments A handful of pumpkin seeds, alone or in trail mix, goes a long way toward alleviating magnesium deficiency.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, 3.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds have 600 mgs of tryptophan, the same relaxing amino acid found in turkey. Forego sleeping pills, and eat some pumpkin seeds. (Cheese, cherry juice and chamomile tea are other snooze-inducing foods.)

How to Buy Fresh Pumpkins for Cooking

 If you want to use puree straight from the pumpkin instead of a can, smaller pumpkins contain sweeter puree, the kind you use in pies, smoothies or muffins. Uncut pumpkins last up to two months in a cool, dry pantry.


How to Make Pumpkin Smoothies and Other Treats 

Instead of taking chances on pumpkin spice drinks from McDonalds or Starbucks, make your own at home where you have control over the ingredients.  The same goes for pumpkin pies made from scratch at home. It takes a little longer to prepare, but you have control over the amount of sugar and salt that goes in the recipe.

 Combine pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin with yogurt, coca powder, cinnamon and flaxseeds in the blender for a delicious smoothie.

 Add fresh or canned pumpkin, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to steel-cut oatmeal for a heart fall or winter breakfast.

Try this low-fat smoothie with banana, vanilla yogurt, and pumpkin pie spice  or add brewed, chilled coffee to make a coffee smoothie

Making your own pumpkin spice coffee is easy. Mix freshly ground coffee and pumpkin pie spice. Brew as usual in a drip coffeemaker

For lunch or a side dish at dinner, add pureed pumpkin to tortilla soup or vegetable soup.

And finally, make your own pumpkin spice latte by mixing brewed coffee, pumpkin puree and vanilla almond milk in a saucepan with pumpkin pie spice and stevia. See the details here


Add pumpkin to your list of fresh fruits and vegetables on your master grocery list. The more you have to choose from, the more satisfied you’ll be with your healthy diet, especially if you’re a new convert.




Reversing Five Years of Tinnitus with Silence and Good Food


I’d gotten ringing in the ears after concerts before – it would last a day and disappear. This time was different. I was at a concert at the House of Blues, and it was sheer torture.

Through the magic of the internet, I’d hooked up with a group of music-loving women my age. The self-appointed leader of the group loved to stand by the front of the stage at every concert, a half-inch from the stage monitors. Everyone else followed suit.

We weren’t kids; we were women in our mid-40s. I never thought much about the damage such close proximity could do to my hearing. I wore cotton balls or cheap earplugs from the Rite-Aid half the time. The other half I didn’t wear any ear protection.

After all, I wasn’t a musician playing onstage every night. The front row concert jaunts took place an average of once a month. How much damage could they do?

After the headlining band had been onstage for about 20 minutes, I slunk out of the show, partly because my ears hurt, partly due to other annoyances.  If you’ve ever been to a general admission rock concert, you know the wackos duke it out with the loyal fans in the first few rows by the stage. Most of the time, the wackos win – the drunks, the obnoxious brawlers, the idiots slinging past you to go to the concession stand or bathroom five times during the show. I don’t quite remember which tactic drove me away, but I retreated to the bar, the back of the house and finally to a cab home.

When I got ready for bed, that’s when I noticed it. The half ringing, half washing machine agitator whooshing in my ears. I assumed it was temporary tinnitus caused by being too close to the stage, and it would fade in a few days. (Later, I found out the whooshing was pulsatile tinnitus, which can be related to hypertension and blood flow problems.)

It lasted five years.


When I stopped going to concerts and clubs (a few years later!), the ringing and whooshing disappeared after about a year of diminishing in-ear noise. Occasionally, it would boot up at night, but it was nowhere near as irritating as it had been when I went to shows every week. During this time, I stopped drinking alcohol and eating fatty and junk food. Abstinence from noise and eating better did the trick. My ear was healed.


What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in one or both ears. Over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus. It has several causes, including:

Medical Conditions
Sinus Pressure
Head, Neck or Dental Issues

 Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic. Patients may suffer from two different types of tinnitus, like I did. This doesn’t necessarily mean the tinnitus is more severe than a single-diagnosis tinnitus.


What You Can Do to Reduce or Get Rid of Tinnitus

 See your doctor and follow his or her guidelines. It’s important to determine what caused the tinnitus (repeated exposure to loud music or machinery? High blood pressure?) and treat or eliminate that.

The food you eat affects your mental and physical health, including whether or not you develop tinnitus. A healthy diet may not guarantee you’ll avoid tinnitus, but it will increase your chances of retaining good hearing.


Tinnitus-Causing Foods

All of the these ingredients are found in fast food and junk food, so avoiding McDonald’s, the $1 Chinese Food Buffet and KFC will help you avoid tinnitus or accelerate healing it.



 Caffeine is a neural exciter. It wakes you up and gives you energy, but drinking too much coffee boosts your blood pressure and reduces blood flow. Don’t overindulge in Starbucks or energy drinks. Try drinking green tea or herbal tea occasionally to cut down on caffeine intake.


 Too much sugar causes dental problems and harms gums, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Trans fats

 Excess salt and trans fat are other causes of hypertension and heart problems. Hypertension and heart problems affect blood flow and tinnitus may be one of the symptoms.


 MSG exacerbates neurotransmitter activity, making you perceive the tinnitus as getting louder. Check any processed or packaged food you buy for MSG on the ingredient label, since this preservative is used in many snack foods and frozen foods.

 Aspartame and Artificial Sweeteners

If you have tinnitus and drink lots of diet soda (or put artificial sweeteners in your coffee or tea), stop drinking the soda and using the sweeteners for a few weeks, and see if your tinnitus improves.  Aspartame works on excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, damaging the nervous system and causing tinnitus. Use honey to sweeten tea instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar, and get your sweets fix from fresh fruits.


Healthy Foods to Reduce Tinnitus

Eating a healthy diet won’t cure tinnitus, but it will reduce the underlying symptoms causing it. Replace processed foods with organically grown fruits and vegetables, and use plenty of anti-inflammatory spices and herbs to flavor food. Anti-inflammatory spices help fight cell-damaging free radicals and keep the blood in vessels near your ear flowing smoothly, reducing the chance of tinnitus.


Choose from the following foods and spices to improve overall health and avoid tinnitus:

Garlic, Turmeric and Other Spices Containing Antioxidants
Vitamin C Rich Fruits Including Strawberries, Blueberries, Lemons/Limes and Apples
Sunflower Seeds, Salmon and Other Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Foods with Vitamin B12 – Pork, Cheese, Eggs, Shellfish, Red Meat, Tuna, Salmon and Fortified Cereals

 Vitamin B12 may be the most important of the anti-tinnitus foods, as this vitamin has been found to protect the myelin sheath around auditory cells in a UK study. 

 The best way to keep your hearing ring free and whoosh-free? Minimize your time around loud noise, keep tabs on your blood pressure, wear ear protection and eat a healthy diet containing plenty of Vitamin B12, Omega 3s and antioxidants.

American Tinnitus Association