Who doesn’t love pumpkin? It seems to be the go-to food during the fall season since it is hearty, delicious, and is wonderful when paired with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. It is also great to pair with other fall fruits and vegetables like butternut squash, apples, cranberries, and many more.
While you may know all about how to use pumpkin in delicious recipes, you may not be aware of how healthy it is. Pumpkin is actually considered a superfood because it contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals. It is relatively low in fat and can replace a lot of fattening ingredients in traditional recipes. You can even make healthy dog treats with pumpkin!
1. Pumpkin is Nutrient-Dense
Before going into the specific health benefits of pumpkin, you should know why it is good overall and what makes pumpkin a superfood. In short – it is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is nutrient-dense, including all parts of the pumpkin. This includes the skin, flesh, and the seeds. You can take a pumpkin and roast the flesh of the pumpkin and the seeds, using each of them for different recipes.
Among the different nutrients included in pumpkin and vitamin C and vitamin E. These tend to be higher than other nutrients. With vitamin E, you will have healthy hair and skin, and can even protect your skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays. Vitamin C is great for boosting your immune system.
Pumpkin is also a wonderful source of fiber, which you need for your digestive health. It can improve your digestion and even help you lose weight. Fiber is also great for keeping your cholesterol levels at a decent level. Additional nutrients in the pumpkin seeds include:
Omega-3 fatty acids
2. There is Lots of Fiber
One of the top health benefits of pumpkin and the seeds is that there is fiber. You really need fiber no matter what your current health status is. Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply want to improve your overall health, fiber is really at the top of the list for nutrients that are good for you.
The problem is that many people don’t get enough fiber in their diet, especially if they don’t follow a healthy diet in general. If you have trouble eating bread and whole grains where a lot of people get their fiber, then pumpkin is the next best thing. The fiber content is a little different depending on if you make puree from fresh pumpkin, or you use canned pumpkin.
With fresh pumpkin or pumpkin puree you make at home, you get about 2.7 grams of fiber per pump of the pumpkin. This is also only about 50 calories for a cup, so it is a great option when adding to various recipes. If you prefer using pure canned pumpkin, then a cup has approximately 7 grams of fiber. It is considerably more due to the added ingredients in canned pumpkin, but a little higher in calories at 80 calories per cup. As always, make sure you are using pure pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling.
Why You Need Fiber in Your Diet
3. It Can Reduce Your Blood Pressure
If you are someone that struggles with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, that you might be curious about ways you can change your diet that will help out. As you know, high blood pressure is known as the silent killer. This is because it can sneak up on you and lead to heart disease, stroke, or even death without hardly any symptoms. The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to ask your doctor.
As many people with high blood pressure know, the key to lowering it is not only through medications, but with healthy lifestyle changes. This often includes exercising more, making sure you get enough vitamins and minerals, and changing your diet. This can seem like a lot, but with small changes, you can make a large impact on your health.
How Pumpkin Helps with Lowering Your Blood Pressure
So, how can pumpkin help? Easy – it is full of phytoestrogens. These are important nutrients for reducing and even preventing hypertension. But that’s not the only reason it helps with blood pressure and heart health. Many of the vitamins and minerals in flesh and the seeds can help your overall health, which helps reduce your blood pressure. It is also excellent for helping you to lose weight and is a low-fat food, so there are a lot of benefits here.
How to Reduce Your Blood Pressure
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, the first thing you want to do is find healthy recipes. It is best that you start with foods you already enjoy, as it won’t feel as much like a ‘diet’, but more like you are just adding something to your current diet.
This can be anything from having your morning smoothie with some pureed pumpkin to adding a little pumpkin to your salads when you already have butternut squash in them. If you want a sweet treat, make pumpkin muffins or cookies, as they are often more nutrient-rich than traditional baked goods.
4. You Get Vision Protection
Moving onto the next health benefit: vision! Everyone should be concerned about their vision, no matter what your age or health is at this moment. From children to senior citizens, protecting your vision really needs to be top priority. While it is true that many conditions affecting the eye, like cataracts and macular degeneration, are considered age-related conditions, you can still protect your eye at a younger age.
Protecting your vision and eye health comes down to several things. First, you want to always protect your eyes from the sun. Any time you are outdoors during the day, make sure you are wearing sunglasses and that you never look directly at the sun. The next thing is to be sure your eyes are lubricated enough, which means using drops if they get dry. You should also try not to look directly at screens for too long without looking away to give your eyes a break.
Another way you can protect your eyes is through a healthy diet, especially one rich in vitamin A. Also known as beta-carotene, vitamin A can help reduce your risk of eye conditions, protect your vision, and even improve how well you see in dimly-lit rooms. A variety of fruits and vegetables will give you enough of this vitamin. One thing you will notice is that most foods with beta-carotene are an orange color due to the carotenoids in them. This includes carrots in addition to pumpkin and butternut squash.
5. Helps with Reducing a Cancer Risk
By now, you can tell that pumpkin has a lot of amazing health benefits for you. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, helps your vision, and can even aid in lowering your blood pressure. Another important health benefit is that it may be able to reduce your risk of cancer. This is also due to the beta-carotene or vitamin A in pumpkin.
There have been studies performed that look at the connection between a beta-carotene deficiency and a link to cancer. They noticed there was a reduced risk particularly of prostate cancer when men were getting enough of this nutrient in their regular diet.
To get the vitamin, you can take a vitamin or multi-vitamin each day, or simply try to get it through your diet. You already know pumpkin is a good source of beta-carotene, but here are some other foods to not miss out on as well:
As you can see, all of these vegetables are available in the fall, so you can make salads and soups with any combination of fall veggies and you will have enough of this vitamin to reduce your risk for cancer.
Other nutrients that help with cancer prevention are vitamin E, vitamin C, and of course the antioxidants.
6. You Will Have Glowing Skin
One of the health benefits that tends to surprise a lot of people is that pumpkin can actually help with the protection and health of your skin. Just about everyone wants better skin, from reducing acne to having a glowing complexion, but it isn’t all about the expensive products you use. Sometimes, it has more to do with your lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet and drinking a lot of water.
Pumpkin contains important nutrients your skin needs, including carotenoids. You learned about these when discussing the vision benefits of beta-carotene. This is just one carotenoid, along with lycopene and lutein. They are not only great at fighting cancer, but also for helping your skin to be protection from sun damage and the signs of aging. Try this pumpkin scrub, too!
7. It Boosts Your Immune System
Pumpkin is typically in season during late summer and through the fall, which is great because this is when people often want pumpkin spiced treats and foods. It is also good because this is when many people are prone to colds and allergy attacks.
One of the top health benefits of pumpkin is the fact that it can boost your immunity. It is done with vitamins like beta carotene and vitamin C, both of which are amazing for your immune system. When you get these natural boosts to your immune system, you will then be able to fight off the common cold, infections, and allergies.
- Have a pumpkin smoothie with yogurt, milk, and spices.
- Create your own pumpkin spice coffee creamer.
- Enjoy diced pumpkin in a fall salad with butternut squash, apples, kale, and dried cranberries.
- Have a warm bowl of pumpkin soup on a chilly evening.
- Make a healthy dessert with pumpkin, such as muffins or cookies.
Lastly, you should know that pumpkin is great for heart health. You already know that the nutrients are good for your blood pressure, but they also help your heart in other ways. It is important for everyone to pay attention to their cardiovascular health in order to be healthy overall, but also to reduce complications like heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
In addition to the other nutrients, it is the fiber that is going to help with your heart health the most. Having a diet higher in fiber can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease, according to a study done at Harvard University. More fiber can also help you to lose weight, which as you know is also good for your heart health.