Many of us recognize the pumpkin as the official fruit of Halloween. It originated from an old Irish tale where people carved a demonic face into radishes and eventually the pumpkin to scare off the wandering spirit of Stingy Jack.
Besides looking scary during Halloween, the pumpkin has many health benefits that you might not be aware of.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can benefit from eating pumpkin and the occasional pumpkin pie.
What Is A Pumpkin?
The pumpkin is a squash that is part of the Cucurbitaceae family. Even though widely thought of as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit as it has seeds.
This fruit is easily recognizable due to its large, bright, orangey and ribbed exterior. Pumpkins are eaten globally but get more popular during Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin
Besides its earthy-sweet flavor, these are the health benefits that you can get from eating pumpkin.
1. High In Beta Carotene
Fruits that are orange in color like carrots and tomatoes are high in beta carotene. The pumpkin belongs to this category as well.
Our body converts beta carotene into vitamin A which is essential for good vision, a healthy immune system and proper functioning of our major organs.
2. High In Antioxidants
Our body produces free radicals during the metabolic process. Someone who isn’t in the best of health or is under a great amount of stress tends to produce more.
Too many free radicals in your body can lead to chronic illnesses, heart disease and even cancer.
Pumpkins contain high levels of antioxidants like alpha-carotene help to reduce and eliminate excess free radicals in the body.
By doing so it stops these free radicals from damaging your healthy cells.
3. Reduce Hypertension
A pumpkin is also very high in potassium which works in lowering blood pressure. Overall, potassium is an essential mineral which helps to support good cardiovascular health.
Here are some of the health benefits of potassium:
- Help to regulate heartbeat
- Regulate body fluids
- Regulate muscle contractions
Potassium is an important electrolyte for human beings and is needed in our diet.
4. Helps In Weight Loss
Pumpkin is a good source of carbohydrates and fiber if you are on a weight loss journey. While carbs are essential as an energy source, you want something that won’t spike your sugar levels and make you more hungry.
Pumpkin serves this purpose well as long as you eat in moderation and don’t overindulge. Furthermore, pumpkin is also high in fiber which helps to keep you feeling satiated for a longer time.
5. Low In Calories
If you are looking for a healthy snack that is low in calories, a slice of pumpkin would make a good choice.
The best way to eat pumpkin is to grill, roast or steam it.
The high-calorie count found in pumpkin-based desserts is usually due to the sugar or milk. one cup of canned pumpkin without added sugar only has 83 calories.
The pumpkin puree from canned pumpkin can be made into made things like:
- Pumpkin soup
- Pumpkin pie
- Pumpkin sauce
- Pumpkin butter
- Pumpkin spread
As you can see, there are many ways that you can incorporate pumpkin into your diet that make it taste more interesting.
6. Promotes Healthy Skin
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C which helps to promote healthy skin. Vitamin c is required by our bodies to make collagen which helps to keep our skin soft and supple.
7. Helps With Constipation
It is quite common to have something tell you to have more pumpkin if you are having constipation. This is because pumpkins are naturally high in fiber and potassium which helps to keep our digestive tract healthy.
If your cat is having constipation, some pumpkin on a daily basis can help soften its stool and regulate its bowel movements.
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds
Many people tend to throw away one of the most nutrient-dense foods of the pumpkin which is the pumpkin seed.
They might seem small but they are full of nutritional value.
Here are some of the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds.
Reduce The Risk Of Certain Cancers
Some studies have shown that eating roasted pumpkin seeds can reduce the risk of the following cancers:
- stomach cancer
- lung cancer
- breast cancer
- prostate cancer
- colon cancer
A small handful of roasted pumpkin seeds is more than enough for most people. If you are buying it from the supermarket, make sure to get the unsalted pumpkin seeds.
Improve Bladder Health
Pumpkin seeds can help to reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. This health issue can make urination problematic.
High In Magnesium
Like potassium, magnesium is another mineral that is important for our health. Magnesium is required for:
- controlling blood pressure
- healthy bones
- reduce the risk of heart disease
It has been found that many of us lack the required magnesium levels in our daily diet. So time to grab some pumpkin seeds and eat up.
Can Improve Sperm Quality
Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc which is an important nutrient for healthy sperm in men. Zinc is also an important component for healthy testosterone levels too.
These factors contribute to better fertility levels and reproductive functions in males.
Can Help To Improve Sleep
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan which helps to promote better sleep in humans. Our body converts tryptophan to serotonin and then to melatonin.
Melatonin is important as it helps to regulate our sleep cycle.
Who Should Not Be Eating Pumpkin?
Pumpkin on the whole is generally safe for most people. Anyone that is has a pumpkin allergy should definitely stay away from it.
If your body is sensitive to any of the minerals that are found in pumpkin like magnesium, potassium and zinc, it might be best to consult your doctor before consuming it.
Pumpkin-based desserts might not be the best way to be consuming pumpkin due to the high sugar levels.
So don’t think you’re being healthy by consuming such food items.
Now that you are aware of how nutritious and healthy pumpkins are, they should be incorporated into your daily diet instead of just being a decorative piece during Halloween or eaten during Thanksgiving.
Remember to not forget that pumpkin seeds are also a very nutrient-dense food and can be eaten as a supplement or as a healthy snack on a daily basis.