Pumpkin is a nutritionally dense food every person yearns to taste. It is rich in antioxidants that promote its cancer and chronic disease-fighting abilities, besides other health benefits.
Pumpkin is one of the fruits in the winter squash class called Cucurbitaceae. In Australia and the rest of the world, pumpkin refers to any fruit in the winter squash class, unlike in the U.S.A, where the name specifically means the orange winter squash. Although pumpkin is usually grouped with vegetables, it is actually a fruit because it possesses seeds. However, most of its nutritional values are more inclined toward vegetables, hence the grouping with veggies. Keep reading to know the impressive health benefits of pumpkin.
i. Pumpkin is nutritionally rich
In gauging how beneficial a fruit or vegetable is to health, nutritionists and food health experts explore the food’s nutritional profile. Pumpkin’s nutritional profile does not disappoint either, hence its value to life. For instance, when a 245 g heavy pumpkin is cooked, you will reap significant percentages of calories, fats, proteins, carbs, and fibers. In addition, the same piece provides up to 245% of your vitamin RDI. As if that’s not enough, you will get several vitamin B complexes, vitamin C and E, potassium, copper, and manganese. The fruit is also rich in magnesium, iron, and zinc, making it a great superfood. As you enjoy pumpkin, you need to worry about weight gain, as it is 94% water, supplying only a few calories to the body (i.e., 49 calories in the 245 g piece).
ii. It is rich in antioxidants
More chronic diseases keep cropping up and affect many today. Cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, liver failure…name them all. Over the years, studies have confirmed that free radicals, compounds originating from the environment, pollution, and metabolism largely contribute to the development and progression of these complications. Pumpkin is rich in several antioxidants, plant compounds that neutralize the free radicals, preventing cell damage. For instance, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene are three of the powerful phytochemicals in pumpkin, which can significantly neutralize free radicals and prevent chronic diseases.
iii. It boosts the immune system
Pumpkin has many nutrients and vitamins, including 245%, 19%, and 10% of RDI vitamins A, C, and E, respectively. Vitamin A, mainly occurring as carotenes in plants, is good for eyesight and fighting infections. This explains why people who are vitamin A deficient battle many infections from time to time. In addition, vitamin C promotes leukocytes’ production, wound healing, cell turnover, and regeneration. Vitamin E and iron promote blood functionality and hemoglobin production, indirectly boosting immunity.
iv. It is weight-loss friendly
Are you a weight loss enthusiast? You should consider taking pumpkin to make your quest successful. Pumpkin is a nutrient-dense fruit and quite friendly for losing weight. At 245 g, a cooked pumpkin supplies the body with only 49 calories because it is water-dense. Consequently, you can eat it and never worry about gaining unnecessary weight, unlike other carb sources like rice or bread. In addition, it is loaded with fibers (3g fibers in the 245 g pumpkin piece) that help slow down absorption and appetite, ultimately promoting weight loss.
v. It has anti-cancer properties
Cancer is one of the chronic diseases affecting millions of people worldwide, with many dying because of the expensive medical expenses of this disease. For the cells to sustain their fast multiplication, they produce free radicals, the dangerous compounds which are damaging to cells. Fortunately, pumpkin has beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha- and beta-carotene, three powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and prevent cancerous cell multiplication. In addition, they lower the cancer risk by more than 30% in healthy people.
vi. It is good for eyesight
As people advance in age, different challenges crop in, including eyesight issues. Thankfully, pumpkin has beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, zeaxanthin, and lutein, three compounds linked to good eyesight. In fact, studies have shown that people who are deficient in these nutrients suffer from eye issues and may become blind, and the converse is also true. Increasing your pumpkin intake may mean a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and loss of eyesight. In addition, the powerful antioxidants in the pumpkin protect eye cells, preventing them from being damaged by free radicals.
vii. Pumpkin promotes heart health
Apart from boosting immunity, vitamin C in pumpkin promotes good heart health. In addition, the fruit has fiber and potassium, two dietary components needed for a good heart condition because potassium releases heart pressure. In fact, studies have shown that people who eat pumpkins regularly have reduced stroke and high blood pressure risks, which are two heart disease factors. As if that’s not enough, the antioxidants in pumpkin release the pressure in the heart walls and prevent their clumping by stopping the bad cholesterols from oxidizing. LDL oxidation is a dangerous process that blocks the heart walls, increasing blood pressure and heart disease risk.
viii. It is a versatile food
Pumpkin is not just a nutritious food but highly versatile, allowing you to easily incorporate it into your diet. For instance, you can use pumpkin when preparing pies, pasta, pancakes, or soups during the cold winter seasons. In addition, you could cup it, sprinkle salt, roast it for a few minutes in the oven, and enjoy it all the way. You can also find pre-cut and canned pumpkins in the food stores and carefully read the ingredient list to ensure you are not packing extra sugar and unnecessary additives into your body.
ix. It may give your skin a new glow
We all appreciate beautiful skin, and pumpkin will definitely boost your skin tone and health. It is rich in carotenes which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is crucial to skin health since it blocks the harmful UV rays from reaching the skin and reverses their effects. In addition, pumpkin is heavily loaded with vitamin C, a nutrient that promotes collagen production and skin health.
Pumpkin is one of the superfoods of all time. It is nutrient-dense and supplies only a few calories while building your body with vitamins, proteins, fibers, iron, and many other nutrients. Consequently, it is good for eyesight, skin health, weight loss and prevents cancer and chronic disease development and progression.