It’s no secret that pumpkin (or Cucurbita moschata) is a super food, with a resume that boasts a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, and bioactive compounds that have been linked with anti-cancer, -obesity and -diabetic properties. Recently, a Japanese research group set out to test whether this spectacular squash also contributes to enhanced exercise performance. To test this hypothesis, mice were orally administered increasing doses of pumpkin extract (or control substance) over the course of 14 days, followed by a series of physical and biochemical tests to asses the level of exercise-induced fatigue. The authors report that the ingestion of pumpkin led to a dose-dependent increase in murine grip strength and in overall swim time prior to fatigue onset. Biochemically, these results were correlated with reduced levels of circulating muscle fatigue biomarkers such as lactate, ammonia and creatine kinase and increased glucose levels, an indicator of performance maintenance.
So what does that mean? In a nutshell, mice fed a pumpkin-supplemented diet appeared to work out harder, gained strength over time and showed biochemical signs of more optimal muscle performance. Why not try this recipe for pumpkin-spiced brownies before you head to the gym and get your sweat on? You will be rewarded with a sweet treat and a more productive workout!
- 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- ½ cup almond flour
- 4 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 5 tbsp raw cacao (or normal baking cocoa)
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips (I use extra dark 63% cocoa)
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease square baking dish
- Mix liquid ingredients together using a food processor or electric mixer
- In a separate bow, combine all dry ingredients (except chocolate chips)
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and then stir in the chocolate chips
- Pour batter into baking dish and cook for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean
- Garnish with chocolate-covered pumpkin seeds for an extra delicious (and nutritious) crunch
- Wang et al., Molecules. 2012 Oct 9; 17 (10): 11864-76.