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As sure as the seasons start to change, you can count on the iconic orange gourds to flood the scene.  But could pumpkins actually be good for your brain health?  While short-term studies are inconclusive about the long-term health benefits of any particular food, an overall healthy diet - such as the MIND diet - that focuses on whole, plant-based foods is considered one of the “Pillars of Brain Health.”  Pumpkins themselves are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which may have all sorts of health benefits.  Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber.  High fiber diets have been shown to help reduce heart disease and improve brain health.  Even pumpkin spice – made of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg – may be beneficial for your brain.  So enjoy the iconic pumpkin this October! 

To find out more about brain health research opportunities for Veterans, drop by our Brain Research Initiative information table in the lobby of the North Charleston CBOC on October 4th.

 Here are some inspiring ideas from members of our Dementia Committee to help you incorporate pumpkin seeds into a healthy diet. 

Rosemary Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: After carving your pumpkin, clean and dry approximately 2 Cups of pumpkin seeds.  Pre-heat your oven to 300F.  Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, combine 1 Tbs dried rosemary, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 2 tsp ground black pepper.  After the seeds are dry, toss them with 1-2 Tbs olive oil and the spice mixture.  Evenly spread the seeds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until they are golden brown. 

Berry & Nut Breakfast Bowl: Combine a variety of fresh berries (1/3 cup strawberries, 1/3 cup blueberries, and 1/3 cup blackberries) with chopped nuts (2 Tbs walnuts and 2 Tbs almonds) and seeds (2 Tbs pumpkin seeds), and serve them with 1/4 cup almond milk or 1 serving of your favorite brand of vanilla Greek yogurt.