5 Great Nutrition Benefits of Pumpkin
With the fall season upon us, so is the re-emergence of pumpkin products on the shelves—yay! As it turns out, pumpkin is full of incredible health benefits, from its fruit to seeds. While many of the tasty pumpkin offerings may look or smell delicious, it is important to choose pure pumpkin, not artificially flavored pumpkin, which offers little to no nutritional value.
Protect Your Sight
The bright orange color of pumpkin comes from its rich supply of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This essential vitamin promotes eye health, and just a single cup of pumpkin provides over 200% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A. In addition, pumpkin is a great source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been suggested to help prevent cataracts and slow the development of macular degeneration.
The beginning of fall is often also the start of cold and flu season. Help guard against sickness with a serving of pumpkin, or try some organic pumpkin oil, which makes a great pasta topper or salad dressing. Its high vitamin A content may help the body resist infections and viruses. If you do catch a cold, pumpkin can help you recover faster, thanks to its high vitamin C content.
Help Avoid Mineral & Nutrient Deficiency
Magnesium is a vital component to more than 600 chemical reactions in the body, including controlling blood pressure, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and much more. Yet, the vast majority of adults are deficient in this essential mineral. Pumpkin seeds are a great natural source of magnesium, and are easy to prepare. Simply spread them on a sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 325 degrees F. Roast until toasted, about 25 minutes. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of other nutrients, including manganese, copper, protein, and many anti-oxidants.
Support Weight Loss Efforts
A cup of canned pumpkin contains about seven grams of fiber, which is known to help slow digestion and promote satiety, keeping you feeling fuller longer. In addition, it is also a great low-calorie food, with just about 50 calories per serving. To add flavor and make it seem more like a decadent slice of pumpkin pie, add some spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, and just a little bit of brown sugar.
Promote Younger-Looking Skin
When consumed, the high beta-carotene content in pumpkin helps protect the skin from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays. However, you can also get skin-health benefits from using pumpkin as a facial mask, as it is a gentle exfoliator and skin-soother. Combine 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie), an egg, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of milk. Apply for 20 minutes, rinse off with warm water, and enjoy a smoother, brighter complexion.
So, take advantage of this awesome fruit—yes, technically it is a fruit—any time of the year!