When people think of pumpkins, they usually think of Halloween or Thanksgiving – typical fall holidays. Pumpkins are more than a decoration or pie filling, however. Did you know that pumpkins actually can be beneficial to your health? Pumpkins are super nutrient-dense; full of vitamins while staying low in calories. Here are some nutritional benefits about pumpkins that may surprise you:
Eye & Skin Health
Pumpkins contain the vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene (converted into vitamin A), which studies have shown to be beneficial to eye health by preventing and protecting against age-related degenerative damage. These vitamins are also essential for skin health, too, preventing premature aging. Pumpkins are high in zinc and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which act as a barrier by filtering out harmful wavelengths of light. Zinc is also fantastic for one’s skin and immune system.
As mentioned above, pumpkins are a nutritionally-dense food, which means that they are low calorie while still being able to fill you up. ½ cup of canned pumpkin only has about 40 total calories. A good way to use pumpkin and to cut calories during the holiday season is to replace the excess sugar and butter with pumpkin. Pumpkin muffins, pies, bread, etc. can simply be made without all of these added ingredients and still taste delicious so that we don’t feel guilty indulging in these beloved treats (when we shouldn’t anyway!). Additionally, 1 cup of pumpkin has the added fiber content which may help you consume less overall calories.
Did you know that pumpkins are rich in potassium? 1 cup of pumpkin provides about 550mg of potassium, which is higher than the amount of potassium found in bananas! With that much potassium, pumpkins may also help with muscle and electrolyte recovery. Potassium can prevent cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
The high vitamin A content in pumpkins helps your body fight against several viruses and bacterial and fungal infections. Pumpkins contain about 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C which also helps recover from colds quicker. Vitamin A is good for fighting against illnesses and even cancer (including prostate and lung cancer), by acting as a barrier against cancer-causing free radicals! Improved immunity means disease prevention as well. Pumpkins can reduce inflammation that can cause heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.
Magnesium & Manganese
Pumpkins have a sufficient amount of magnesium that is important for nerve function, and proper heartbeat patterns and heart health. Magnesium also plays a huge role in bone density and muscle contractions. Manganese helps support a healthy metabolism and also helps bone development.
You can also eat the pumpkin’s seeds, which are a good source of fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that support a healthy heart. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with the same vitamins and minerals health benefits, along with protein.
100 grams of pumpkin seeds (about 1 cup) provide about 560 total calories; 30g protein, 50g fat, 12g carbohydrates.
Take Home Message
There are several recipes that are healthier than your average pumpkin by, for those who seek these health benefits. Pumpkin smoothies and soups are a great way to cool down or warm up during the fall season. Snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds or baked pumpkin granola bars are also an easy, quick way to benefit from the nutritional properties of this festive fruit! Discover our recipes here!