Many people tend to associate pumpkin with no more than just a Halloween decoration or a Thanksgiving pie filling, but there’s more to this plump, orange plant. Pumpkin is an incredibly nutritious food, meaning it is packed with minerals and vitamins yet is low in calories. There is more than one way to incorporate pumpkin into meals, including salads, soups, desserts, and even as a replacement for butter.
Nutritional Value of Pumpkins
- As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, a cup of boiled, cooked, drained, salt-less pumpkin contains:
- 0 g of cholesterol
- 49 calories
- 76 g of protein
- 12 g of carbs (which includes 5.1 g of sugar and 2.7 g of fiber)
- 17 g of fat
Eating one cup of canned or cooked pumpkin can easily provide you well over 100% of your daily needs for vitamin A, over 10% of vitamin E, 20% of daily vitamin C, and 10% or more of potassium. Moreover, you also get high doses of riboflavin, manganese, copper, and potassium, and a minimum of 5% of B-6 folate, thiamin, iron, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, and pantothenic acid.
9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin
1. Improved Eyesight
One cooked cup of mashed pumpkin contains over 200% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, which sharpens the vision, especially in dim light, as per National Institutes of Health. Pumpkins are also packed with carotenoids, the elements that give their bright orange color, as well as beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into a kind of vitamin A.
2. Speeds Weight Loss
Pumpkin is an overlooked source of fiber. One cup of pumpkin contains 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories, which can keep you feeling full for long periods of time on fewer calories. A diet that is rich in fiber enables people to eat less, and thus shed pounds.
3. Regulates Blood Pressure
Pumpkins have ample amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, all of which are known to support cardiovascular health. Consuming the right amounts of potassium is just as essential as minimizing your sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension. Increased intake of potassium can also reduce the risk of stroke, preservation of bone mineral density, protection against loss of muscle mass, and a decrease in the formation of kidney stones.
A Harvard study involving over 40,000 male health experts concluded that those who consumed a diet in rich fiber had a 40% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, as compared to those who relied on a diet low in fiber. Another study carried out by Swedish researchers showed that women who consumed a fiber-rich diet had a 25% lower risk of developing a cardiovascular disease as compared to those women how ate a low fiber diet.
This information doesn’t mean that overstocking on pumpkin desserts will do the trick. For a healthier way to incorporate pumpkin into your diet, add pumpkin chunks to a roasted vegetable medley, or sprinkle its seeds on salads. A morning smoothie with pureed pumpkin is also a good option.
4. Improves Men’s Sexual Health
Pumpkins, and especially their seeds, are packed with beta-carotene and other antioxidants that have cancer protective properties. Taiwanese researchers found out that pumpkin seed oil blocked harmful prostrate growth in male rats. ¼ cup of the seeds packs around 2.75 mg of zinc, which can contribute to male sexual health. According to a Wayne State University study, young men who didn’t get enough of zinc intake had substantially lower testosterone levels after 20 weeks.
5. Better Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is responsible for post-Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness. Tryptophan also contributes to helping the body produce serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that assists you in relaxing and winding down. In addition to promoting better sleep, the serotonin will enhance your mood.
6. Help Reduced Risk of Cancer
Research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition shows a positive relationship between a beta-carotene- rich diet and a reduction in the risk of developing a prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has an inverse relation with the development of colon cancer in Japanese people. Furthermore, the plant sterols present in pumpkin seeds can help combat certain types of cancers.
7. Better Immunity
Looking for a way to fight illnesses and improve your overall immune system? Then you should try pumpkin. Pumpkins are rich in both beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which offer an immunity boost due to their powerful combination of nutrients and combination. They help your body viruses, infectious diseases, and infections. Pumpkin oil can help you fight numerous fungal and bacterial infections.
Moreover, pumpkin contains 20% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, which may assist you in recovering from colds faster. One cup of cooked pumpkin comprises of over 11 milligrams of vitamin C, which is around 20% of the IOM recommended daily intake for women (men are advised to aim for 75 mg)
8. May Help Treat Diabetes
In scientific tests, pumpkins were shown to lower blood glucose levels, thus improving glucose tolerance and increasing the amount of insulin produced by the body. More research is needed before we can say how exactly will pumpkins will be beneficial for people with diabetes, but if you have diabetes, eating pumpkin certainly will not hurt.
9. Youthful Skin
Beta-carotene present in pumpkin not only helps us protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but the pulp also makes a wonderful, all-natural face mask that not only soothes but also exfoliates. The fruit enzymes, zinc, vitamins A & C, and alpha hydroxyl acids increase cell turnover, soften the skin, and help control oil production and hormone level. All you need is a quarter of pureed pumpkin, a tbsp of honey, a tbsp of milk, an egg. Combine all the items and apply on your face, wait for about 30 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you should eat more pumpkin, and not just save it for Halloween!