Fall Food Facts: The Power of PumpkinArticle posted in: Nutrition
More than a beloved fall decoration or Thanksgiving pie, pumpkin is a true superfood with an impressive nutrient profile offering numerous health benefits to your body. One look at a pumpkin can tell you that it’s rich with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which gives these gourds their famous orange color and supports your immune system—as well as your eye, vision and kidney health. This powerful antioxidant, along with a great amount of disease-fighting essential vitamins and nutrients, can help support many functions in your body and also promote heart health, regularity, weight loss and more.
If you’re not familiar with consuming this festive seasonal fruit, pumpkin may seem a little spooky to cook with. But pumpkin can actually be easily prepared or bought in many forms (including seed, oil and powder) to be added to a variety of sweet and savory meals from smoothies to soups!
Read on for eight amazing food facts and benefits of pumpkin:
1. Pumpkin supports weight loss and digestion.
Pumpkin is a great food to incorporate into your diet to aid in weight loss due to its low calories and high fiber content—it’s also made of about 90% water. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one cup of cubed pumpkin flesh has .6 grams of fiber, which will promote regularity and assist smooth digestion. This concentrated combination of fiber along with one gram of protein will make you feel fuller for longer while giving you energy and increasing your metabolism. Meet your goals and make weight loss easier by enjoying some roasted pumpkin with your next soup or salad.
2. Antioxidants in pumpkin can prevent breast cancer and other diseases.
The antioxidant beta-carotene is highly present in pumpkin and gives it the vibrant orange hue—while offering your body increased immunity to deter disease. Essential vitamins A and E are also found in high amounts in pumpkin, and Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in your body to provide well over your recommended daily amount. One study published in the National Center for Biotechnology showcases that the combination of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene along with vitamins A and E, can prevent the development of breast cancer.
3. Eating pumpkin offers anti-aging effects to your eyes and skin!
The high concentrations of vitamin A, beta-carotene and other antioxidants found in pumpkins offer anti-aging effects to your eyes, vision and skin. Vitamin A helps protect eye health and prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss. Additionally, according to the American Heart Association, the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin found in pumpkin can deter the formation of cataracts. Beta-carotene can block the harmful UV rays of the sun and prevent wrinkles—as well as promote skin cell regrowth and prevent acne. So whether you want to drink a pumpkin smoothie or try a pumpkin facial, this powerful combination of antioxidants and vitamins will leave you with youthful and glowing skin!
4. Pumpkin supports a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Many studies suggest that eating fresh fruit is a great way to combat heart disease, and raw pumpkin contains high amounts of fiber, potassium and vitamin C along with a powerful combination of antioxidants, all of which fight damage from free radicals to enhance heart health. You can get around 10% or more of your RDA of potassium from a serving of pumpkin, which will help increase your muscle movement, promote blood flow to the heart and stabilize blood pressure.
5. Eating pumpkin can improve your sleep and moods.
Magnesium found in pumpkin (around five percent of your RDA in a serving) can assist in regulating your sleep cycle to aid your healthy lifestyle, weight loss and moods. Pumpkin is also rich with potassium which benefits sleep and moods. A study published in The Journal of Pineal Research shows that potassium stabilizes both melatonin and serotonin levels, which are responsible for maintaining sleep and moods. A serving of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana, so enjoying pumpkin with your meals will help you get the most out of your sleeping and waking cycles to promote beneficial brain chemistry to ensure better moods throughout the day!
6. Pumpkin can aid pregnancy and fertility.
Pumpkin contains a good amount of folate, which is an essential mineral for pregnant women to promote DNA and fetus development. Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, contain a high amount of zinc, which according to a study conducted by Penn State University, promotes fertility in both men and women. According to Scientific Reports, zinc can also increase sperm count in men and help women improve their ability to conceive.
7. Eating pumpkin can reduce pain and inflammation.
Rich with vitamin C, pumpkin can help to reduce aches and pains caused by inflammation and many types of chronic illness. Additionally, a study published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy states that vitamin C along with antioxidants, which are highly present in pumpkin, offer anti-inflammatory properties and can help alleviate symptoms of hypertension in diabetic patients. Vitamin C also eases joint pain caused by inflammation and has positive effects on symptoms of arthritis.
8. Pumpkin can be enjoyed in a variety of ways!
Enjoy a night of carving pumpkin and make good use of the meat and seeds. You can toss the seeds in the oven to roast as you carve, slice and cube the orange flesh to roast, grill, puree or bake the pumpkin to eat it in a variety of ways. Cubed or sliced pumpkin pieces can be thrown together with salads and other veggies to create all types of healthy meals. You can make your own pumpkin puree in the food processor (as well as buy canned without sugar) and add it to soups, chili or hummus. Use puréed pumpkin to add to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, smoothies and more for a nice healthy snack or breakfast. However you choose to eat it, pumpkin can give your body many essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to benefit a healthy diet.