6 Health Perks of Eating More Pumpkin
On a country drive on a sunny autumn day, who doesn’t smile at the sight of a roadside produce stand heaped high with bright orange pumpkins? From the reminiscent feelings they spark to the tasty treats they inspire, it seems God made pumpkins to bring smiles to our faces. And yet, believe it or not, they can do so much more for you than meets the eye.
In addition to providing some of the season’s most beloved flavors, pumpkins are an incredibly nutrient-dense fall favorite, offering up a plethora of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, E and C, thiamine, niacin and even minerals like potassium and magnesium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
So how exactly can this seasonal gem boost your health? We’re diving into six ways.
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6 Health Perks of Eating More Pumpkin
1. Lower Cancer Risk
Pumpkins owe their brilliant orange color to beta-carotene, a carotenoid that the body turns into vitamin A. Research suggests that a diet rich in beta-carotene may lower the risk of breast cancer. Vitamins A and C are “a kind of cell defense squad,” says WebMD’s nutritional expert, Caroline Kaufman, MS, RDN. “[They] are both antioxidants, and they act as shields for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.”
2. Better Eyesight
Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, and just one cup of pumpkin provides more than 200 percent of a daily vitamin A allowance. In addition to the beta-carotene, pumpkins also contain two antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—that may help to prevent cataracts, WebMD says.
3. Boosted Immune System
The vitamin A found in pumpkin helps the body to fight off infections and viruses, and pumpkin oil has also been known to ward off bacterial and fungal infections, WebMD says. In addition, pumpkin’s 20 percent recommended daily allowance of vitamin C per serving can aid in the recovery of a cold.
Try this fantastic recipe a great pumpkin soup!
4. Younger-Looking Skin
According to the BBC’s Good Food, the vitamins C, E and beta-carotene found in pumpkin all play an important role in the health of our skin. “Vitamin C is not naturally made by the body and so it is important we get it from the diet every day, as it plays a part in collagen formation, helps to prevent bruising and helps with wound healing,” BBC says.
Vitamin E is “an excellent antioxidant” and works with vitamin C to protect against sun damage.
5. Help In Treating Diabetes
Reuters reports that Chinese researchers have discovered that pumpkin extract has insulin-like attributes that have the potential to be useful in helping to treat diabetes. WebMD says more testing needs to be done before anyone can be sure that pumpkin helps diabetics, but “munching on pumpkin certainly won’t hurt.”
6. Weight Loss and Hydration
According to WebMD’s Kaufman, pumpkin’s high fiber content—seven grams per cup of canned pumpkin—helps to slow digestion and aid in losing weight. Since canned pumpkin is nearly 90 percent water, it can also keep you hydrated, in addition to having fewer than 50 calories per serving.
…and Don’t Forget About the Pumpkin Seeds!
Pumpkin seeds are all the rage for snacking and are easily found for purchase. They are also easy to roast at home in the oven after carving a pumpkin.
A literature study on pumpkin seeds published June 2018 in the Indonesian Journal of Cancer Chemoprevention (IJCC) says, “In general, pumpkin seeds are an extraordinarily rich source of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and cosmeceutical properties that exhibit many pharmacological effects and health benefits.”
Pumpkin seed oil contains high antioxidant vitamins like tocopherol and carotenoid, the article says.
According to the IJCC, studies have shown that pumpkin seeds are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and are free radical scavengers in the heart and kidneys. They also can:
- Relieve arthritis
- Shrink tumors
- Help soothe irritable bowels
- Ease hypertension
- Reduce high cholesterol readings
- Provide therapy for bladderstone disease
Here’s a great and easy recipe for perfectly roasted pumpkin seeds: