13 Proven Benefits Of Pumpkin For The Healthy Eater
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Health Benefits Of Pumpkins
Pumpkins are great for your eyes, as just 100 g can meet 170% of your daily vitamin A requirement. They're also good for the heart thanks to the fiber, magnesium, and potassium, and reduce cancer risk. They also boost testosterone levels in men, lift mood, improve sleep quality, and treat arthritis symptoms. They can be a good addition to a weight loss diet.
If you can’t think beyond Halloween and Harry Potter when you hear “pumpkin,” it’s time to change that. Pumpkins are chock full of the goodness of nutrients like vitamins A, B6, and C, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Canned pumpkins can be used round the year. But if pumpkins are in season, pick a fresh, deep orange one without soft spots.
A 100 g serving has 91 g water, just 7 g carbs, 0.1 g fat, and just 26 calories. A 100 g serving can meet a phenomenal 170% of your daily requirement of vitamin A.1 Even the super-nutritious pumpkin seeds are a health freak’s dream snack. Here’s a look at the many health benefits of pumpkin.
1. Helps Weight Loss
If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you might want to add pumpkin to your diet. It has a good amount of fiber, boasting of 1.7 g in a cup of pumpkin seeds, 3 g in mashed pumpkin, and 7 g in canned pumpkin. Fiber is just what your digestion needs to make things a lot smoother and a heavy dose of fiber every day can help with weight loss.2
Pumpkin smoothie recipe
Blend together: 1 cup pumpkin puree | 1 frozen banana | 1 tsp cinnamon powder | 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla if you prefer) | ice cubes (optional)
Also, eating pumpkin makes you feel full for hours. The fruit has an impressive 91% water content to keep you hydrated and it’s low in calories as well – all tick marks for weight loss.
Have a pumpkin smoothie after a workout. It can replenish the potassium you lost during your workout session without piling on the calories.3
How To Eat Pumpkin For Weight Loss
- Snack on toasted pumpkin seeds.
- If you’re craving something sweet, simply sprinkle a little cinnamon on your pumpkin (toss in a little almond if you want) and enjoy!
- Find interesting ways to sneak a little pumpkin into your food. Like pumpkin muffins or in a smoothie.
2. Boosts Immunity
Getting sick often? Struggling to recover from a nasty cold? You need pumpkin in your diet. From fighting against infections to keeping your bones strong, vitamin A has a truckload of responsibilities. And this particular vitamin is extremely high in pumpkin.
Pumpkin Soup recipe
- Chop 1 onion, 3 potatoes, and 1 pumpkin into small pieces.
- In 1 tbsp butter, cook the onions first, then the potatoes and pumpkin.
- Pour 2 cups water and let it cook. Add salt and pepper.
- Once the veggies are soft, blend them into a paste in a blender and cook it in a saucepan till you get the right consistency. Add a little milk if it’s thick. Your soup’s now ready.
Vitamin C is another essential part of raising your immunity. One study found out vitamin C can help reduce the severity of a cold.4 Pumpkins are a rich source of vitamin C. In fact, one cup of canned pumpkin can give 20% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
Pumpkins are also great sources of folic acid, manganese, and riboflavin – all essential for a healthy immune system. Are you grabbing that pumpkin, already? Try pumpkin soups for an easy (and yummy) way to get all those nutrients in your body.
3. Improves Eye Health
Did you know eating a cup of canned and cooked pumpkin can give you 200% of your daily vitamin A? This particular vitamin is important for sharper vision, better performance under dim lights, and to keep your eyes in good health. Also, the chemical components of pumpkins reduce the risk of cataracts and development of other optical issues.5
4. Maintains Heart Health
Pumpkins are great for the heart thanks to their fiber, vitamins, and potassium. When you eat a diet rich in fiber, it helps to protect the heart from ailments.6 Also, a good intake of potassium is proven to reduce the risk of stroke.
Magnesium is another reason why you need to eat pumpkin. It’s a vital mineral for your heart. Even a slight deficiency can create changes to the heart.7 It’s important for the pumping of your heart, for healthy blood vessels, and to reduce the risk of heart attacks. And all you need is just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds to meet half the magnesium requirement for a day. Pumpkin seeds were also found to lower LDL aka “bad” cholesterol.8
5. Reduces Cancer Risk
A pigment known as beta-carotene is the reason why pumpkins get their deep orange color. But this particular pigment is not just known for its color. When consumed, beta-carotene turns into vitamin A in our system. Also, several studies claim diets rich in beta-carotene and zinc reduces the risk of cancer, especially prostate and lung cancer.9
By adding pumpkin (rich in both beta-carotene and zinc) into your diet, it should help lower the risk of cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Another study found out beta-carotene also reduces the risk of colon cancer.10
6. May Help In Diabetes
There are a few studies that suggest eating pumpkins could help lower blood glucose levels and improve the production of insulin.11 But it needs further studies.
7. Prevents Skin Aging
Pumpkin Skin Mask
- Mix 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin, 1 egg, and 1 tbsp honey.
- Apply the mixture to your face.
- Wash off with warm water after 20 minutes.
Pumpkins can work wonders for the skin as well. They help delay signs of aging (thank you, beta-carotene), increase collagen production, and brighten the skin. Because of its strong vitamin A and C presence, it allows the skin to remain soft and smooth.12
8. Boosts Mood
If the thought of eating a yummy pumpkin pie puts you in a good mood, here’s news for you. Eating pumpkin works wonders for your mood. Pumpkin seeds have a high amount of tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is the building block of a mood-lifting neurotransmitter named serotonin. Research has revealed that deficiency in serotonin can lead to anxiety and depression.13
9. Improves Sleep Quality
Since pumpkins are rich in tryptophan, they could also act as a sleep stimulants.14 Tryptophan produces serotonin and this, in turn, relaxes and calms you, so you eventually fall asleep. A few experts even claim this could be the reason why people tend to sleep after a heavy Thanksgiving feast.
10. Boosts Male Sexual Health
An interesting study has proven that even smelling pumpkin pie can set you in the mood for a little action between the sheets.15
While cooking pumpkins, save the seeds. Roast the seeds for a yummy and healthy snack. You can also grind the roasted seeds into a pumpkin seed butter.
There are also links between eating pumpkin seeds and raising testosterone levels and increased sexual desire. The seeds are rich in zinc, making them useful to tackle erectile dysfunction. Low levels of zinc were found in men who experience erectile dysfunction.16
11. Reduces Inflammation
Pumpkins have been found to decrease inflammation. One study revealed that pumpkin seed oil could provide relief from arthritis and reduce other inflammatory effects. It was also noted that pumpkin seed oil functioned like arthritis medication.17
12. Reduces Risk Of Bladder Stones
One study found out munching on pumpkin seeds helped reduce the risk of bladder stones. It also helped decrease bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance, and reduce urethral pressure.18
13. Improves Women’s Health After Menopause
Menopausal women can heave a sigh of relief. A recent study revealed pumpkin seed oil reduced postmenopausal signs. This includes headaches, hot flashes, and joint pains.19
Pumpkins are pretty versatile. You could make smoothies, desserts, energy bars, curries, and a lot more. Just experiment and happy munching!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Basic Report: 11422, Pumpkin, raw. USDA.|
|2.||↑||Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss. Harvard Medical School|
|3.||↑||Lindinger, Michael I., and Gisela Sjøgaard. “Potassium regulation during exercise and recovery.” Sports medicine 11, no. 6 (1991): 382-401|
|4.||↑||Hemilä, Harri, and Elizabeth Chalker. “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.” The Cochrane Library (2013)|
|5.||↑||Maci, Samanta, and Rafaela Santos. “The beneficial role of lutein and zeaxanthin in cataracts.” Nutrafoods 14, no. 2 (2015): 63-69|
|6.||↑||Wolk, Alicja, JoAnn E. Manson, Meir J. Stampfer, Graham A. Colditz, Frank B. Hu, Frank E. Speizer, Charles H. Hennekens, and Walter C. Willett. “Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of coronary heart disease among women.” Jama 281, no. 21 (1999): 1998-2004|
|7.||↑||Weglicki, William B., Iu Tong Mak, Joanna J. Chmielinska, Maria Isabel Tejero-Taldo, Andrei Komarov, and Jay H. Kramer. “The role of magnesium deficiency in cardiovascular and intestinal inflammation.” Magnesium research: official organ of the International Society for the Development of Research on Magnesium 23, no. 4 (2010): S199|
|8.||↑||Abuelgassim, A. O., & Al-Showayman, S. I. (2012). The Effect of Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L) Seeds and L-Arginine Supplementation on Serum Lipid Concentrations in Atherogenic Rats. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 9(1), 131-137|
|9.||↑||Wu, Kana, John W. Erdman, Steven J. Schwartz, Elizabeth A. Platz, Michael Leitzmann, Steven K. Clinton, Valerie DeGroff, Walter C. Willett, and Edward Giovannucci. “Plasma and dietary carotenoids, and the risk of prostate cancer.” Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers 13, no. 2 (2004): 260-269|
|10.||↑||Okuyama, Yusuke, Kotaro Ozasa, Keiichi Oki, Hoyoku Nishino, Sotaro Fujimoto, and Yoshiyuki Watanabe. “Inverse associations between serum concentrations of zeaxanthin and other carotenoids and colorectal neoplasm in Japanese.” International journal of clinical oncology 19, no. 1 (2014): 87-97|
|11, 19.||↑||Gossell-Williams, M., C. Hyde, T. Hunter, D. Simms-Stewart, H. Fletcher, D. McGrowder, and C. A. Walters. “Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.” Climacteric 14, no. 5 (2011): 558-564|
|12.||↑||Schagen, Silke K., Vasiliki A. Zampeli, Evgenia Makrantonaki, and Christos C. Zouboulis. “Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging.” Dermato-endocrinology 4, no. 3 (2012): 298-307|
|13.||↑||Jenkins, Trisha A., Jason CD Nguyen, Kate E. Polglaze, and Paul P. Bertrand. “Influence of tryptophan and serotonin on mood and cognition with a possible role of the gut-brain axis.” Nutrients 8, no. 1 (2016): 56|
|14.||↑||McGinty, Dennis T. “Serotonin and sleep: molecular, functional, and clinical aspects.” Sleep 32, no. 5 (2009): 699|
|15.||↑||Hirsch, A., and J. Gruss. “Human male sexual response to olfactory stimuli.” J Neurol Orthop Med Surg 19 (1999): 14-19|
|16.||↑||Prasad, Ananda S., Chris S. Mantzoros, Frances WJ Beck, Joseph W. Hess, and George J. Brewer. “Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults.” Nutrition 12, no. 5 (1996): 344-348|
|17.||↑||”Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review.” Nutrition research reviews 23, no. 02 (2010): 184-190|
|18.||↑||Yadav, Mukesh, Shalini Jain, Radha Tomar, G. B. K. S. Prasad, and Hariom Yadav. “Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review.” Nutrition research reviews 23, no. 02 (2010): 184-190|
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.