Can you believe fall is here? Now, we can tour the pumpkin patches and carve Jack-o-lanterns. Did you know you can receive several health benefits from consuming pumpkins?

Here are some health benefits from WebMD:

Weight Loss. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which allows digestion. Pumpkin keeps you feeling fuller longer. There’s seven grams of fiber in a cup of canned pumpkin, which is equal to amount of fiber in two slices of whole grain bread.

Sharp Vision. Pumpkin’s brilliant orange coloring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. A single cup of pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health. Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.

Younger-Looking Skin. Sure, eating pumpkin can help you look younger (beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays), but the pulp also makes a great, all-natural face mask that exfoliates and soothes. All you need is 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie), an egg, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of milk. Mix, then apply. Wait for 20 minutes or so and wash it off with warm water.

Lower Cancer Risk. Beta-carotene is a cancer fighter. Research shows people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.

It (May) Help Treat Diabetes. In scientific tests, pumpkin has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and increase the amount of insulin the body produces. More testing needs to be done before we can say for sure what pumpkin’s benefits for diabetics will be, but if you have diabetes, munching on pumpkin certainly won’t hurt.

Try this tasty recipe:

Honey Roasted Pumpkin

3 cups pumpkin cut in large chunks

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Serves four.

In a bowl, pour honey and olive oil over the pumpkin chunks. Mix, then add the salt and cinnamon to the pumpkin. Mix. Place in a roasting dish, cover with foil and cook for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and check the pumpkin tenderness. If a fork inserts easily, remove the pumpkin. If not, continue cooking for up to 20 more minutes.

For more information on this topic, contact the Harrison County Extension Office at (903) 935-8414.

Louraiseal McDonald is the county agent for family and community health in Harrison County.