It’s finally pumpkin season, and while some may decide to carve faces on them, others may be eating them to unlock their impressive body-healing benefits. In fact, many people are not aware of the surprising health benefits of pumpkins, and what they have to offer. I never ate pumpkin until doing plenty of research, which has shifted my view so much that I crave pumpkin everything when the season begins! Aside from Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latté, that is, which contains over 7 teaspoons of refined sugar.
This squash provides so much more than the silly faces we carve on them. They help keep our heart healthy, vision clear, and waistlines slim. Being a raw vegan, I eat my pumpkin raw (raw pumpkin soups, pies, puddings, you name it!). If you do eat pumpkin, what is your favourite way to consume it? Let us know in the comments below!
Here are 10 surprising health benefits of pumpkin you might never have known!
1. Helps Keep Your Waistline Trim
Pumpkins are incredibly rich in fibre, one key factor that helps individuals lose weight quickly and efficiently by keeping you fuller, longer. Although I normally don’t promote eating lower calorie diets (mainly just eat until satisfied), pumpkins contain just 50 calories per cup, with over 3 grams of fibre per cup! That means feeling full on fewer calories for longer periods of time!
2. Improves Vision
Just one cup of mashed pumpkin contains 200% of your RDA of Vitamin A (technically this is attributed to the carotenoids (bright orange colour) in the pumpkin, which converts to vitamin A in the body). Vitamin A is a necessary vitamin our body requires to help aid our vision in dim light and darkness. It also helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
3. Slows The Aging Process
Pumpkins contain both beta- and alpha-carotene. It has been found that the more alpha-carotene you eat, the slower your body ages. This isn’t surprising, given alpha-carotenes strong antioxidant effects, which help to reduce the amount of free radicals floating around in our body (main contributors of DNA damage).
4. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of phytosterols, plant based chemicals that reduce LDL cholesterol. The actual pumpkin flesh contains plenty of beta-carotenes as well, which prevents the oxidation of cholesterol and further build-up of cholesterol along arterial walls (normally contributing to heart attacks and stroke).
5. Rich In B Vitamins
Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of B-complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate. B vitamins are necessary for metabolizing energy and keeping our nerves healthy. They are also required for regulating sleep cycles, maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails, reducing blood sugar and to help break down fatty acids.
6. Reduces Inflammation
Laboratory studies have found beta-carotene in pumpkins (and other foods with orange pigments like carrots and oranges) to have very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This is useful for individuals with high cholesterol, since beta-carotenes help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, a main process that contributes to heart attacks and stroke.
7. Potassium For Recovery and Repair
Pumpkins, surprisingly, contain more potassium than a banana! One cup of pumpkin contains over 560 mg of potassium, a crucial mineral and electrolyte required by the body after any good workout. Potassium helps our muscles recover properly, and avoids cramping. It also helps reduce hypertension!
8. Protects Against Cancer
Carotenoids are incredibly useful in reducing our risk of developing certain cancer types. That rich orange pigment in pumpkins has been shown to decrease the risk of lung, colon, bladder, cervical, breast, and skin cancer.
9. Helps The Heart
Magnesium in pumpkin seeds, one mineral most Americans are devoid of, helps promote healthy blood pressure and reduces your risk for experiencing a heart attack or stroke. The seeds contain mono-saturated fatty acids too, which help reduce cholesterol, thereby improving cardiovascular function.
10. Nourishes The Skin
Did you know that pumpkin is one of the highest vitamin-A containing vegetables out there? Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that provides structure and integrity to the skin. It helps to thicken and stimulate the dermis, thereby reducing wrinkle formation, and increasing blood flow to the skin surface. More pumpkin eating will simply result in a beautiful glow that will radiate from the inside, out!