A bright orange member of the squash family, most people only think of pumpkins during the holidays when it comes time to decorate them or make pumpkin pie. While those are great uses of a pumpkin, they also bring a lot of other benefits, and people should actually be eating more of them. Between the pumpkin itself and its seeds, there are a lot of things that the pumpkin can do for your health.
Most people use pumpkin as an addition to their foods instead of eating them on their own, but if you do, there is a surprising amount of good nutrition coming your way. So what is inside each serving of pumpkin, and what kind of great benefits can each pumpkin bring? Let’s look at some of the benefits that have been backed up by science, and you might find yourself eating pumpkin a bit more often.
If you prepare a pumpkin the same way that you would mashed potatoes, you are in for a treat in terms of nutrition. With fewer than 50 calories per each one cup serving, you are getting nearly 250 percent of your daily recommendation of vitamin A. That’s clearly the most abundant vitamin in each serving of pumpkin, but there is still a significant amount of vitamin C, vitamin E and riboflavin, with more than 10 percent of your daily recommendation.
The most significant minerals that you can find in pumpkin include potassium, copper and manganese. These are all also over the 10 percent mark, as well as fiber, which comes in at 11 percent. Other vitamins and minerals that you can find in each serving include thiamin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. It’s almost ridiculous how good pumpkin is in for overall nutrition.
As we just mentioned, one serving of pumpkin has just under 50 calories, meaning that it will give you a lot of calories to work with throughout the day while still getting a lot of vitamins. Not only does it take just a few minutes to burn off the calories that you would get from eating pumpkin, but you can also get rid of other cravings.
Pumpkins taste sweet for the most part, and also have plenty of fiber. This should be enough to help you reduce cravings for other foods, and studies have shown that those who eat more fiber eat fewer calories throughout the day. Pumpkin even has more fiber than bread, which is usually the first food you think about if you want to feel full.
Give Your Heart a Break
The amazing fiber content found in pumpkins won’t only help you trim your waistline, but will also improve your heart health. Studies show that you can lower your risk of heart disease by 25 percent by eating more fiber, and that’s just from foods such as bread. Since pumpkins are healthier overall, you should see an even bigger benefit for your ticker.
Evidence has claimed that eating the seeds from pumpkins also reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol thanks to the phytosterols. The effect that foods such like the pumpkin have on your heart have had plenty of positive research to backup the claims. Eating just a few servings per week will allow you to get the benefits.
All in Your Head
Pumpkins have a very positive effect on your heart, but will also help you from the neck up. Starting with your brain, eating more pumpkin will allow you to sleep better. The reason why you feel more tired after Thanksgiving dinner is because of the tryptophan that allows your body to produce serotonin. This is what is found inside of pumpkin, and gives you a relaxed sleep. In turn, that will certainly improve your mood and overall well being.
Connected to your brain are your eyes, which you need to take care of. Eating pumpkin can help you treat your eyes because of their massive vitamin A content. Studies show that the vitamin A content can help you prevent macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Now, focusing down to your mouth, the vitamin A also boosts the strength of your teeth so you will be smiling straight for longer.
Pumpkin has plenty of antioxidant properties, and the vitamins inside will allow you to prevent a lot of the diseases that many people seem to pick up on. Vitamins A and C have a big effect on your immune system, and that will help you either get over a cold or flu faster, or just prevent them altogether.
Even more serious diseases such as cancer can be prevented by eating more pumpkin. Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, and early evidence suggests that beta-carotene can help you prevent certain forms of cancer. The most common cancer that pumpkin can help fight is prostate cancer. That’s because pumpkins contain a lot of zinc, and studies claim that prostate cancer is often linked to a low zinc level.
If you ever feel greasy or sore after a workout, you should be eating more pumpkin. Pumpkins are high in potassium, with an even higher content than bananas. Muscle soreness and fatigue often comes from a lack of potassium, making pumpkin the perfect pre and post-workout food. It will also help you retain important body water, making it easier to get through the workout.
As for the effects that pumpkin has on your skin, it does contain antioxidants that reduce the signs of aging such as wrinkles. Making a face mask out of pumpkin will help you to exfoliate, as well, which is perfect after a tough workout.
Summing it Up
As you have read all of the great benefits from eating pumpkin, you might start making mashed pumpkin instead of mashed potatoes from now on. So is there anything negative when it comes to eating pumpkin? If you plan on eating the seeds, you want to make sure not to overdo it, as they can be hard to digest, which leads to gas and constipation.
If you only plan on eating pumpkin itself, you have to make sure you aren’t eating too much because of the high vitamin A content. With more than 240 percent of your daily recommended value, too much vitamin A can cause side effects such as nausea and headaches. As long as you aren’t eating a whole pumpkin at a time, you should be fine. Outside of those minor precautions, feel free to add more pumpkin to your diet, especially if you want to boost your weight loss plans and boost your heart health.