This time of year is all about the pumpkin. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli and even pumpkin beer all remind us of the start of the holiday season and that Halloween is right around the corner. Many of us think “jack-o-lanterns” versus “heart-healthy squash” when pumpkins come to mind – and that’s ok! Here we’ve rounded up and carved out 9 ways pumpkin health benefits can help you and your family.
Roundup of Pumpkin Health Benefits
1. Weight Loss
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds you may want to introduce pumpkin to your diet. A full cup of cooked pumpkin has less than 50 calories and boasts up to three grams of fiber per serving.
The fiber will help keep you full, while the minimal calories helps keep the weight off. You can start a healthy meal with fiber-rich pumpkin, and you’ll likely consume fewer calories overall during the meal.
2. Eyesight Boost
Pumpkins are nutrient-dense, and are especially packed with vitamin A. A single cup of pumpkin contains twice the daily minimum requirement of vitamin A and delivers a potent dose of carotenoids. These carotenoids convert into a form of vitamin A that boosts low-light vision.
3. Cancer Protection
Orange vegetables generally contain significant levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the National Cancer Institute claims may play a serious role in cancer prevention.
Natural sources of beta-carotene work more efficiently than other health supplements, so jump right in and enjoy pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, and the like to protect your body.
4. Mood Enhancement
Eating pumpkin can make you happier? The answer is a resounding – yes!
According to experts, the potent level of tryptophan in pumpkin seeds facilitates a boost in the production of serotonin, which is a key contributor to our overall moods and makes for one of the happiest pumpkin health benefits. The amino acid is often linked to “sleep-inducing” foods like turkey, but consuming tryptophan-rich foods in moderation tends to elevate the spirits versus putting you to sleep.
5. Electrolyte Balance
It is crucially important to hydrate after a workout, and it is equally important to replace lost sodium and potassium in your body to ensure electrolytic balance. Post-workout snacks like sports drinks and bananas are ok, but have you ever considered pumpkin?
A bottle of the leading sports drink delivers 60 mg of potassium, while a banana sports about 400 mg. A cup of pumpkin? How about 564 mg! It is just one more pumpkin health benefit. Plus, you’ll reap all of the other benefits of consuming this heart-healthy vegetable.
6. Immune System Support
The winter months are ripe with colds, sniffles and other maladies, but you can do something about it – eat more pumpkin! The vitamin A in pumpkin helps the body ward off viruses, infections and diseases, while the vitamin C in pumpkin minimizes the effects of colds and aids in recovery. Pumpkin oil has been shown to effectively battle both fungal and bacterial infections.
7. Skin Protection
Consuming the beta-carotene found in abundance in pumpkin helps safeguard the skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Or, consider a different approach: Create a mask out of pumpkin pulp to exfoliate and soften the skin. Combine one egg with ¼ cup pumpkin pulp, a tablespoon of milk and a tablespoon of honey, and then simply apply, wait 20 minutes, then wash off.
8. Fertility Boost
According to Harvard Health Publications, there is such a thing as “fertility foods.” Iron-laden plant foods, such as spinach, tomatoes, beets, and pumpkin, help promote fertility – a conclusion that comes from an eight-year study of more than 18,000 women.
The vitamin A found in pumpkin is important during pregnancy as well. It helps support the immune system and keeps illness and infection at bay.
9. “Bad Cholesterol” Reduction
LDL a.k.a. “bad cholesterol” clogs the arteries and often leads to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events. Pumpkin seeds have been known to reduce LDL due to the phytosterols they contain by blocking absorption of it in the body.
Before you throw your Jack-o’-lantern away, scoop out the seeds first. Toss with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake them in a 300-degree oven for 45 minutes and you’ll have the perfect seasonal, heart-healthy snack.
The ways pumpkin provides health benefits are numerous and can truly help you achieve optimum health when combined with a nutritious diet, consistent physical activity and plenty of sleep. Now, as you reach for that pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin pie, orange you glad you know these pumpkin health benefits!?