The sight of orange-colored foodstuffs at this time of year often means one thing: pumpkin. It’s a popular ingredient that’s used in everything from cocktails to crackers, but does it have any health benefits? I
f you answered yes, then read on for more information about why you should be eating pumpkins. More commonly known as a ‘squash’, the bright orange vegetable is an excellent source of several key nutrients. Just one cup of raw pumpkin contains almost half the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A. Read on for more information about why you should be eating pumpkin and the many other health benefits it offers…
Rich in vitamin A
Meats, fish and dairy are the most common sources of Vitamin A, so it’s easy to assume that vegetables don’t contain this important nutrient. However, according to the NHS, pumpkin is one of the best sources of Vitamin A around. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 783.7% of your daily Vitamin A intake, making it an essential food for the prevention of blindness, particularly in children. Vitamin A is essential for the function of cells and the production of a protein that keeps your body strong.
It also supports your immune system, helping to fight off infections, and is beneficial for your lungs and respiratory system. It’s essential for the health of your eyes, particularly your retinas, and prevents night blindness as well as age-related vision loss.
Promotes Eye Health
As well as preventing blindness, Vitamin A is also beneficial for eye health in general. It helps to protect your eyes against degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts and promotes eye development in children. It’s also helpful for the general health of the rest of the body, keeping your immune system strong and healthy so that it can fight off infections and diseases effectively.
Children’s eyes are particularly sensitive and at risk of being damaged by Vitamin A deficiency, which is why pregnant women need to eat foods with large amounts of this nutrient. A deficiency in Vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to blindness in the child, and it’s estimated that up to half a million children suffer from this condition every year.
Contains Vitamin C
A single cup of pumpkin also contains 14% of your daily Vitamin C intake, making it an excellent source of this essential nutrient. Although many people assume that fruit is the only source of Vitamin C, vegetables also contain this beneficial nutrient. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can protect you against free radical damage.
It’s particularly beneficial to the immune system, and studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have stronger immune systems than those who don’t. Vitamin C is also helpful for your skin, and regular intake of this nutrient can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It’s also an essential nutrient for the normal function and development of connective tissue and is needed for the production of collagen. This protein is found in skin, bones, and blood vessels, and supports the structure of these tissues.
Vitamins and minerals
The vitamins and minerals in pumpkin aren’t limited to Vitamin A and Vitamin C. One cup also provides 10% of your daily iron intake, and several B vitamins, including B1, B6, and B3. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of potassium, and the minerals manganese and magnesium, which are helpful for the proper functioning of muscles and bones.
The B vitamins in pumpkin are a great source of energy, particularly B3 and B6, which are needed for energy production in the body. B6 is also essential for the proper function of the brain, nervous system and metabolism, while B1 is helpful for the production of energy from food, as well as the formation of proteins in the body.
Protection against disease
These vitamins and minerals aren’t just beneficial for energy and health, they also protect against disease. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and a lack of Vitamin B3 has been linked to heart disease. Regular intake of these nutrients protects against several diseases, including cancer. Vitamin C is particularly helpful for preventing the onset of colds, flu and other infections, while Vitamin A is beneficial for eye health and preventing macular degeneration and age-related blindness. Vitamin B6 is helpful for the prevention of heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
May Help with Weight Loss
There are also several studies that suggest eating pumpkins may help you to lose weight. One study suggests that incorporating a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds into your diet daily for 8 weeks can reduce the amount of visceral fat in the abdomen, which is linked to the onset of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Another study shows that regularly consuming canned pumpkins may help to reduce the amount of insulin produced after eating a meal, which can help with weight loss. Still, these studies are limited and more research is needed to determine whether pumpkin is truly helpful for weight loss. However, it’s important to note that regular and consistent exercise is also necessary for weight loss, as exercise burns calories and is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.
Magnesium for healthy bones and muscles
There are also several minerals in pumpkin that are beneficial for your health. A single cup provides 29% of your daily magnesium intake, which is helpful for the proper functioning of muscles and bones. Magnesium is also an essential mineral for the proper function of many different enzymes in the body, including those involved in energy production.
Pumpkin is also a good source of potassium, which is helpful for the proper function of blood vessels and kidneys and aids in the regulation of blood pressure. Potassium is beneficial for the health of bones, as it helps to regulate the amount of calcium in the body. Calcium is needed for the maintenance and repair of bones, but too much of it can be harmful as it can be deposited in joints, kidneys and muscles.
Fats for a healthy brain
Pumpkin is also a good source of healthy fats, particularly oleic acid, which is found in the seeds. This fat is beneficial for the brain and is needed for the normal development of neurons. It’s also helpful for the regulation of hormones and the maintenance of a healthy heart. Regular intake of pumpkin seeds may also be beneficial for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that people who consume more dietary fats, particularly oleic acid, have lower levels of amyloid proteins in their blood, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as several minerals and B vitamins. It’s also a good source of healthy fats, which are beneficial for the brain, and a source of dietary fiber that can help to prevent constipation. Pumpkin is also very low in calories, which makes it a great choice for people who are trying to lose weight, and it’s high in fiber.
This makes it a healthy food choice that can help to improve your digestion, reduce cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight. It’s important to note, however, that cooked pumpkin has fewer health benefits than raw pumpkin, as cooking destroys many of the vitamins and minerals that are essential for health. If you can, it’s best to eat pumpkin in its raw form or steam it rather than boiling it.