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The power of pumpkin

Eating squash and pumpkin may protect your eyes.

Pumpkin and squash are tasty, festive and a great addition to the holidays. But, did you also know these vegetables add flavor and nutrients to your holiday meals?

One cup of pumpkin contains 2.7 grams of fiber, 564 milligrams of potassium, and 1.4 milligrams of iron. It also provides calcium, folate, and beta-carotene, an antioxidant touted for its vision-protecting powers. In addition, substances found in squash — such as lutein and zeaxanthin — may decrease macular degeneration risk.

Research by the University of Wisconsin in Madison suggested that diets rich in squash, pumpkins, and other foods with yellow pigments might protect against vision loss commonly associated with age.

To fill your diet with the best of the fall harvest, try our simple pumpkin bar recipe, or add extra flavor to your dishes with these suggestions:

  • For a fresh taste with fewer calories, substitute one cup of chopped squash for one cup of pasta or rice in your recipes.
  • Whip up a pumpkin smoothie with frozen yogurt, fat-free milk, and fresh pumpkin. Top with a few shakes of pumpkin spice and cinnamon.
  • Add fresh or canned pumpkin to your pancake batter.
  • Fight the chills with warm soups and stews made from winter squash or pumpkins. For extra impact, serve in the shell of an empty pumpkin.

For more fall recipes, check out the recipes tab at the top of this page.