As we near Halloween, it seems that pumpkins take center stage each year. Pumpkin spice this and that fill our social media feeds and menu options. But pumpkins can be more than just a seasonal decoration because it turns out they are extremely beneficial for your health. So you can feel free to eat away.
There are many benefits of pumpkins, but here are 10 of my favorite reasons to eat pumpkins during the fall!
1. Pumpkins are very high in Vitamin A
In fact, they contain 245% of your RDI of vitamin A!1https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php This is because pumpkins are high in beta carotene2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854912/ which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for many functions, but especially for improved vision. It can also reduce the risk of degenerative eye conditions, and promotes healthy bones and teeth. 3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936685/
2. Great for weight loss
Pumpkin is 94% water,4https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2601/2 which means it is low in calories and high in nutrients. This nutrient to calorie ratio makes it easy to consume a lot and not put on weight. And because it’s high in fiber it will improve digestion and help you to feel full for longer.5https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/142/5/962/4630853 This prevents overeating and can help you lose weight while enjoying your favorite healthy foods during the holidays.
3. The seeds are delicious and cheap
If you haven’t already eaten pumpkin seeds, go and do it now! Pumpkin seeds are extremely nutritious and are less than $1/lb in most places, which makes for a great snack. They are delicious when roasted in the oven with a little bit of seasoning. All you need to do is save the seeds when you carve your pumpkin and roast them with some seasonings and you have a great snack. But you can also use them for sauces and dressings. Here is a link to a great, oil free pumpkin seed dressing that you can make!
4. Can reduce your risk of cancer
Pumpkins have been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in older males.6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27406826 One study found that colon cancer was dramatically decreased in Japanese men.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23380957 These studies concluded that the beta-carotene content of pumpkins was to thank for these incredible cancer prevention qualities.
5. They are cheap and versatile
Pumpkins can be found in many places for about $0.20 – $0.30 per pound! This makes them pretty cheap vegetables. And the good news is you can utilize the entire pumpkin to eat. The seeds are great snacks, the pumpkin itself is great in baked goods, pies, smoothies, soups, salads, and more. You can add pumpkin to almost any dish. It is both sweet and savory, so you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!
6. Pumpkins are high in antioxidants
Pumpkins are packed full of carotenoids, which can help protect against free radical damage.8https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/326074 Because it is rich in beta-carotene, as well as alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin it is extremely protective. These antioxidants not only aid in vision, but they are great for the skin as well! That’s why pumpkins make for great skincare products.
7. Have more potassium than bananas
While bananas contain 422 mg of potassium per cup, pumpkins boast 564 mg per cup. Potassium is incredibly important for heart health.9https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287212.php It helps to lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke.10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27792643
8. They can build immunity
Because pumpkins are high in vitamin C and vitamin A, they are directly linked to improved immune function.11http://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-09-2012/immune-boosting-foods.html#slide4 Vitamin A helps to produce more white blood cells, which aid in our immunity. Vitamin C is protective against infection as well12 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1541262/ and strengthen the immune system.
9. Pumpkins reduce inflammation
One study found that pumpkin seed oil reduces inflammation more than drugs!13https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7784309 Plus, it comes without any of the side effects that are associated with drugs. It is also high in magnesium which can help fight inflammation in certain organs as well.14https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/animal/article/influence-of-a-magnesiumrich-marine-extract-on-behaviour-salivary-cortisol-levels-and-skin-lesions-in-growing-pigs/9002F4F8E41FCB5F38B2351481A43D82
10. It’s good for you, man 😉
Pumpkins are high in zinc, which is an essential nutrient for healthy sperm. 15https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0090429579904217 They can help raise testosterone levels, which improve sperm health and boost fertility. Pumpkin seeds have been used for hundreds of years to treat enlarged prostate and urinary tract infections.16https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/94821 Pumpkin seeds also aid in the prevention of testosterone transformation into DHT,17 https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2006.9.284 which is often associated with an enlarged prostate.
So this fall season, try to incorporate more recipes that include pumpkin. Your body will certainly thank you!