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What Are The Health Benefits Of Pumpkins?
Pumpkin season is here, and it’s time to celebrate! This round, ribbed squash relative is very versatile and can be made into a bevy of wonderful fall treats. Including mouthwatering baked goods like pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin muffins, and savory treats like pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin risotto. Pumpkins are even used to brew beer!
No matter what your preferences and tastes, autumn’s signature squash can fit in somewhere. However, not only are pumpkins tasty, they are also extremely healthy and nutritious. Some of the health perks of pumpkins include helping your heart stay healthy, improving vision, and even managing your waistline! But those are not all of the health benefits. Below are 8 healthy advantages to eating pumpkins.
1. Helping with Weight Loss
With three grams for each cup and only 49 calories per serving, pumpkins are a fantastic, but frequently overlooked source of fiber. People who eat a lot of fiber tend to eat less overall, because fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer on fewer calories. Because people are eating less, they gain fewer pounds.
According to WebMD, a 2009 study showed that those who eat fiber before lunch eat fewer calories throughout the day. This was in comparison to those who only ate applesauce or drank apple juice. So, to help keep your weight under control, eat pumpkin and get more fiber in your diet.
2. Keeping Eyes Sharp
The signature bright orange color typical of pumpkins comes from carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Being rich in carotenoids, pumpkins are great for your eyes. One cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin has over 200 percent of a person’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A. When carotenoids are consumed, your body converts them into a form of vitamin A.
According to the National Institute of Health, this vitamin helps vision especially when it comes to dim light. For those who want to keep their eyes healthy and clear, eating pumpkin will give you more of the vitamin A that your eyes need.
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3. Eating Pumpkin Seeds for a Healthy Heart
Seeds and nuts are a rich source of phytosterols. These plant-based chemicals have been proven to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Eating pumpkin seeds are one way to get more phytosterols in your diet and reduce your cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of zinc which is used by the body to produce melanin, an eye protecting pigment. Zinc also helps people with age-related macular degeneration and can help to reduce the loss of vision.
4. Lowering your Risk of Cancer
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that fights against cancer-causing free radicals. According to the National Cancer Institute, it may play a role in cancer prevention. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotene just like sweet potatoes, carrots, and butternut squash. The NIH says that food sources of beta-carotene can be used much more easily by the body and work better than supplements.
In addition, the plant sterols contained in pumpkins have also been shown to fight off certain types of cancers. Pumpkin seeds also contain phytoestrogens. This plant compound mimics the hormone estrogen. According to one study, phytoestrogens can help prevent breast cancer.
5. Improving Your Moods
Did you know that a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds can improve your mood? Rich in the amino acid tryptophan (infamous for inducing the post-Thanksgiving meal nap), pumpkin seeds can help keep your outlook bright. Although most experts agree that overeating is what makes people feel tired on Thanksgiving, tryptophan is still important.
Tryptophan is a vital ingredient in the production of serotonin, a chemical in the body that regulates mood. Since the human body cannot produce tryptophan on its own, you must get it from the foods you eat to make serotonin. So, if you’re having trouble keeping your spirits up, try some pumpkin seeds.
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6. Protecting the Skin
On top of being rich in beta-carotene, pumpkins also have a lot of vitamin C. Both of these help to fight the free radicals that break down the skin over time. Mineral rich pumpkins contain potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Copper is important for collagen and elastin production and creating melanin, a pigment for skin. Zinc has been reported to help with acne. It is also crucial for wound healing and is also an anti-inflammatory.
7. Boosting Immunity
The jury is still out on whether or not vitamin C actually prevents sickness and colds. At the same time, vitamin C is very healthy for you. A fantastic source of vitamin C, one cup of cooked pumpkin has almost 11 mg of vitamin C. That equals 20 percent of the daily recommended 60 mg for women. Men need around 75 mg per day. In addition to vitamin C, the insoluble fiber found in pumpkins stimulates the immune system. Other vitamins and minerals in pumpkins like vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin also give your immune systems a boost.
8. Refueling After a Workout
Some people tout bananas as ‘nature’s energy bar’ because of their high potassium content. However, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains even more potassium than a banana. You’ll get 564 mg of the super-fueling nutrient from a cup of pumpkin while a banana has 422 mg of potassium. After a heavy workout or an exercise sessions, extra potassium restores your body’s electrolyte balance to keep your muscles functioning at maximum efficiency.
Another great byproduct of potassium for your workout is stabilized blood pressure. Potassium aiding in lowering blood pressure is an overall boost to cardiovascular health making your workouts better overall.
Many people think of pumpkins as decorative. Others think of it as the flavor of the season. However, this seasonal gourd is way much more than a pretty face. Consuming cooked pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can help you stay healthy, now and throughout the year.