Read to learn all about the remarkable health benefits of pumpkin from weight loss to skin health. Also, discover the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
It’s Pumpkin Season
It is now October. Pumpkins are the favorite fruit of schoolchildren everywhere – from jack-o-lanterns to pumpkin puree pie fillings. But pumpkins are much more than just a Halloween decoration or a dessert garnish on an autumn dinner table. They are a highly nutritious member of the squash family.
The potential health benefits of pumpkin are many as well. They range from aiding in weight loss to supporting skin and eye health.1-3 They are also low in calories and an excellent source of fiber.
Furthermore, their seeds are considered a superfood in their own right and a good healthy snack to add to your diet. Finally, there are a ton of ways to use pumpkin in your kitchen.
Pumpkin Nutrition: Vitamins and Minerals Like Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, And More
Pumpkins are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are a very good dietary source of potassium, magnesium, and zinc. They also contain the powerful antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is what gives the pumpkin its signature orange color.4 When consumed, Beta-carotene converts into vitamin A in your body.
Potential Health Benefits Of Pumpkins
May Support Eye Health
The macula of the human eye contains high concentrations of the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin. These carotenoids only come from foods such as green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.5 Consuming foods rich in carotenoid, like pumpkin, may help support eye health.6
May Support Weight Loss
Pumpkins rank very low in their levels of dietary cholesterol, saturated fat, and salt. And at just 25 calories per half-cup, they are also very low in calories.7
Additionally, the high amount of dietary fiber (1.4g per 1/2 cup) might help you feel full faster, which in turn, might help you avoid overeating.8
These factors combine to make pumpkins excellent food for a weight loss regimen.9
May Support Skin Health
Now, the beta-carotene in pumpkin also has natural skin-rejuvenating potential. For instance, the retinol produced in your body from beta-carotene helps to fight free radicals caused by UV damage. The vitamin C in pumpkin also contributes to fighting sun damage and free radicals.
Alpha-hydroxy acid, also found in pumpkin, helps to remove dead skin cells.10 It also supports natural skin cell turnover.11
May Support Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
A growing body of research suggests that one of the health benefits of pumpkins may be its ability to support healthy blood sugar. This may benefit people with compromised blood sugar levels.
What Are The Potential Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds?
Benefits Of Both Raw And Cooked Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. Also known as pepitas, they are an excellent snacking addition to a healthy diet. You can eat them raw or cooked. Each method of eating them has its own advantages.
Raw pumpkin seeds are high in protein, contain healthy fats, and may support healthy blood sugar levels. Eaten raw, pumpkin seeds are a good source of the minerals zinc and magnesium. They also contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fiber.
Eating a serving of unshelled seeds is the best way to get nearly half of the daily recommended allowance of zinc. A quarter cup a day provides 42% of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.
The unshelled seeds also retain almost 3X the fiber as their shelled counterparts.12They also contain vitamin E in a wide variety of forms. Each has its own powerful antioxidant benefits.13
As they are a high-fat food, their shelf life should be 3-4 months when stored in a cool, dark, and dry place.14
Roasting the Seeds
Roasting your pumpkin seeds in the oven brings out the natural sweetness. For an addictive snack, try seasoning them with oil, salt, and pepper. It is very simple to do.
First, soak them in water for several hours to remove the stringy pulp. Then roast on your oven’s top rack for 15-20 minutes at 350°F.15
Note: roasting them longer than 15-20 minutes may degrade the fats in the pumpkin seeds.16
How Do You Prepare And Eat Pumpkin?
It is tempting to buy store-bought or canned pumpkin pie filling. The convenience is alluring.
But baking your own pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin puree can be much healthier and more flavorful. The ingredients for a pumpkin pie recipe often include all-purpose flour, pumpkin puree, eggs, sweetener, and spices. The signature spices that give it its flavor are usually cinnamon and nutmeg.
Besides the traditional pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes, though, pumpkin can be added to a host of other delicious recipes. You can add fresh or pureed pumpkin to…
- Savory dishes
- Homemade ice cream
Pumpkin is definitely not a one-trick-pony. And don’t forget about the roasted seeds!
Pumpkins and Pumpkin Seeds: A Remarkably Healthy Fall Treat
At first glance, pumpkins might appear to be merely fun seasonal food. But dig a little deeper and you will realize how much nutritional value and culinary diversity a pumpkin packs. Both the pumpkin puree and pumpkin seeds are edible and can be cooked into a huge assortment of recipes.
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