Pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and colours and there are hundreds of varieties consumed globally. While commonly classified as a vegetable, pumpkins are a fruit. They are part of the squash family which includes watermelons, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. Pumpkins can be eaten in salads, soups, stir-frys, and even baked. Pumpkin leaves and seeds are also edible. Here are the many health and nutritional benefits of pumpkin.
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It also has copper, manganese, iron, vitamin B2 and vitamin E and trace amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, and other B vitamins. For all its nutrients, it’s relatively low in calories and about 94% water. The seeds are also edible and full of nutrients as well.
Packed with antioxidants
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant and gives orange fruits and vegetables their vibrant colour. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A which is crucial for eye health. Beta-carotene also reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and offers protection against asthma and heart disease. Pumpkins also have other antioxidants including zeaxanthin which helps the eye filter damaging ultraviolet rays and protects against macular degeneration. Antioxidants strengthen the immune system and fight off a variety of diseases including cancer.
Heart health and blood pressure
Antioxidants in pumpkin support heart health. It also has a variety of nutrients which are good for the heart including vitamins A, B1, B6, copper, fibre, folate, and manganese. Consuming pumpkins helps lower blood pressure which is linked to cardiovascular disease. The fibre in it also plays a part in lowering blood pressure and lowering cholesterol all of which benefit the heart.
Pumpkins may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Studies show that the fruit has the potential to limit type 2 diabetes. Further studies are needed though.
The fibre in pumpkins helps you feel full for longer which can reduce the urge to reach for unhealthy snacks or more food. They also have low calories while being nutrient-rich. The fibre also promotes digestive health and makes bowel movements regular.
The carotenoids in beta-carotene act as natural sunblock protecting the skin and cells from harmful UV rays. Pumpkins are also high in vitamin C which is essential for healthy skin. The body uses vitamin C to make collagen which keeps the skin strong and healthy.
Versatile and easy to add to the diet
Pumpkin is delicious, versatile, and easy to add to your diet. Fresh pumpkins have more health benefits, but canned options are fine as well. Pumpkin soup is easy to make, delicious and incredibly popular during the winter months. When baking, pumpkin puree can be used as a substitute for oil or butter in almost any recipe. The fruit can be made into a smoothie along with other ingredients like yoghurt, honey, and other fruits. It can be used as pasta sauce and to thicken other soups and stews. For people who don’t like the taste of pumpkins, you can add it to your chapati or mandazi flour so you will not taste it but enjoy it.
Pumpkin leaves are a great source of dietary fibre which aids in digestion. Vitamin A in the leaves supports eye health and supports the immune system. The leaves have vitamin B6 which may help lower joint pain for people with arthritis, They also have manganese which may help alleviate PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and benefit people with mood swings, irritability and depression.
Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits. They lower the risk of developing cancer, improve prostate and bladder health, improve sperm quality and help control blood sugar. The seeds are packed with fibre which promotes digestion and because fibre makes you feel fuller for longer, it aids in weight loss. Pumpkin seeds are great for mental health, they improve sleep quality and boost your mood which could make them beneficial for people dealing with anxiety and depression. 8 Amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds
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