If you enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie every once in awhile, you already know it tastes great. But you might not realize that there are numerous health benefits of pumpkin as well. There might be some confusion as to whether a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable. But one thing is for sure – pumpkin provides a wide variety of benefits.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
A pumpkin is classified as a fruit because it has seeds, but its nutritional value is closer to that of a vegetable. However you classify it, pumpkin can help promote good vision, since it’s rich in vitamin A. Researchers have found that pumpkin can help slow retinal function decline for people with a degenerative eye condition known as retinitis pigmentosa.1 Pumpkin also contains important vitamins C and E, as well as copper, beta-carotene, and zinc. According to one study, people who took supplements containing these substances saw a slower decline in vision.2
Improved Heart Health
No matter how you decide to consume pumpkin (pumpkin pie, anyone?!), when you do, you’ll help make your heart healthier. Another one of the health benefits of pumpkin is that it helps lower the risk of heart problems. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, and increased fiber intake helps lower the risk of heart problems. In one study, researchers found that women who consumed a healthy amount of fiber were at a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart issues, compared to women who followed a diet low in fiber.3
Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin
Rich in Fiber
Pumpkin is a great source of fiber. Just one cup contains .6 grams.4 There are a lot of reasons why fiber is very important. It can, for instance, help promote healthy digestion and relieve constipation. It can also help reduce bad cholesterol and make sure that waste products properly move through the body. Fiber also helps promote a feeling of fullness. As a result, you won’t be as prone to overeating.5 The amount of fiber you need to get each day depends on your gender and how old you are. Women over the age of 50 need about 21 g per day, while those younger than 50 should strive to get about 25 g. Men over 50 need 30 g, while men younger than 50 need about 38 g of fiber per day.6
Awesome Source of Vitamin C
Another one of the health benefits of pumpkin comes from its vitamin C content. One cup of pumpkin provides 10.4 g of vitamin C.7 This is very important, because vitamin C provides a host of health benefits. Studies suggest that people who consume foods high in vitamin C are at a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. If you don’t get enough vitamin C, you could be at a higher risk of many health problems. These include gallbladder issues, stroke, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and bleeding gums.8
High in Potassium
One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 550 milligrams of potassium.9 This is an extremely important mineral that helps the body in many ways. For example, people who have even a moderate supply of potassium may have a better chance of surviving a heart attack. In addition, research indicates that people who have high blood pressure typically have low potassium levels. Other research shows that people with good potassium levels are at a lower risk of suffering a stroke.10
How to Enjoy the Health Benefits of Pumpkin
There are a lot of different ways to use pumpkin. While pumpkin pie is great, it’s also loaded with sugar. It’s an occasional indulgence. To enjoy the health benefits of pumpkin, consider using it in a soup, a smoothie, or even hummus. All you need for a pumpkin spice smoothie is to add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to a half a banana and a scoop of vanilla protein powder. Then, mix in a quarter-cup of canned pumpkin and a cup of almond milk. Or you could add a spoonful of pumpkin (with a touch of maple syrup and cinnamon) to your oatmeal for breakfast.
If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your pancakes, mix spoonful of pumpkin puree with your pancake batter. Pumpkin can also make waffles even better. Simply mix pumpkin spice blend with a quarter-cup of pureed pumpkin into your waffle batter. You can also use pumpkin pie spice to make an energy snack. Just mix it with some peanut butter, pumpkin puree, and vanilla protein powder.
The Bottom Line
The next time you eat pumpkin, whether it’s pumpkin soup, pumpkin hummus, or some other delicious pumpkin dish, pat yourself on the back. Not only are you giving your taste buds a treat, you’re also helping to improve your health.