9 Surprising Health Benefits From Pumpkins
This time of year pumpkin flavor is everywhere; pumpkin muffins, pumpkin butter, pumpkin coffee, even pumpkin beer! While pumpkin flavored treats can be high in fat and should therefore only be consumed once-in-a-while, most people aren’t aware that pumpkin itself is actually one of Fall's most nutrient dense foods.
Here are 8 ways pumpkin (not to be confused with artificial pumpkin spice flavoring) can benefit your health:
1. Full in Fiber
Fiber can keep you feeling fuller for longer so instead of picking up an afternoon snack try adding pumpkin to your lunch. One cup of smashed pumpkin consists of 3 grams of dietary fiber and is only 49 calories. Or, if you prefer eating pumpkin seeds, one ounce consist of about 1.7 grams of fiber.
2. Eye Health
1-cup serving of pumpkin puree consist of 1,906 micrograms of vitamin A, a vitamin that is crucial to keeping our eyes healthy. And 1-cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the vitamin A than is recommended for your daily intake. And another perk? Pumpkin also contains zeaxanthin, an antioxidant often taken to help with vision. Note: Vitamin A also helps maintain healthy skin, teeth and bones.
3. Blood Pressure
Research shows that pumpkin seed oil contains phytoestrogens, which are plant derived compounds that show beneficial in preventing hypertension (high blood pressure). And with the holidays just around the corner, anything to help keep that blood pressure down is always a good idea! Try using in recipe's as a finishing oil, not a cooking oil as high temperatures can decrease nutrient density.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a constituent of most proteins and is also in control of helping our bodies produce serotonin, which is one of the body's most crucial brain chemicals for regulating the sleep/wake cycle. So snacking on some pumpkin seeds in the evening could help put you right to bed.
5. Immune Boosting
Along side its other orange friends (carrots, butternut squash, orange peppers, sweet potato, etc...), pumpkins contain the antioxidant, beta-carotene. Antioxidants help our bodies fight free radicals, which are cells that try to attack and destroy our body’s healthy cells. Rich in calcium, B vitamins, magnesium and zinc, pumpkins offer a great source of healthy nutrients to boost our immune systems.
6. Healthy Skin
Pumpkins get their orange color from carotenoids, a plant pigment that is stored in fat under the skin. Pumpkins are also filled with hydrating properties and this combination helps to fight premature wrinkles helping to keep our skin looking younger for longer.
7. A Post Workout Snack
Who needs a banana after a hard workout when you can have a cup of pumpkin! 1 banana has 422 milligrams of potassium but just 1-cup of cooked pumpkin has 564 milligrams! Note: A cup of pumpkin has about 10 percent of your daily potassium requirement.
Iron plays a number of different roles in your body, but it's primary function is to transport oxygen throughout your body and help make hemoglobin and red blood cells. Consider adding pumpkin to one of your favorite fall recipes to help boost your iron intake. Just 1-cup contains 3.4 milligrams of iron.
9. A Healthy Heart
Pumpkin seeds are shown to be rich in phytosterols. Pfytosterol is a plant based chemical shown to help reduce “bad” cholesterol. The vitamin C, fiber and potassium content in pumpkin all help to keep our hearts healthy!
Keep checking back for delicious pumpkin sessional recipes!