Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It’s native to North America and particularly popular around Thanksgiving and Halloween. In the US, pumpkin typically refers to Cucurbita pepo, an orange type of winter squash. In other regions, such as Australia, pumpkin may refer to any type of winter squash. While commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. That said, it’s nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruits. Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is nutritious and linked to many health benefits. Here are the impressive health benefits of pumpkin.
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin
Highly Nutritious and Particularly Rich in Vitamin A
Pumpkin has an impressive nutrient profile.
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.
Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also relatively low in calories, as it’s 94% water.
It’s also very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A.
Regulates blood pressure
Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.
Results of a 2017 study of 2,722 participants suggested that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium in the treatment of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Typically, reducing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, consuming more potassium may also reduce the risk of other types of CVD.
More research is necessary to confirm the effects of pumpkin consumption on stroke and CVD risk.
Reduces the risk of cancer
A 2016 study suggests a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta carotene and tumor suppression in prostate cancer.
The results of a 2014 cross-sectional studyalso show that beta carotene slowed the development of colon cancer in a Japanese population.
Prevents and controlling diabetes
Including pumpkin in the diet may help people control diabetes and their blood sugar levels.
A 2019 study shows that a combination of two plant extracts, one of which was pumpkin polysaccharides, brought down blood sugar levels in mice.
Although the study did not involve humans, the research shows some potential for these plant compounds to limit type 2 diabetes.
Due to their impact on blood sugar, scientists may be able to rework them into an antidiabetic medication, though further studies are necessary.
Looking for a way to ward off illness and improve your immune system? Try pumpkin. The large shot of vitamin A the fruit provides helps your body fight infections, viruses and infectious diseases. Pumpkin oil even helps fight various bacterial and fungal infections. Plus, pumpkin is packed with nearly 20 percent of the recommended amount of daily vitamin C, which may help you recover from colds faster.
Sure, eating pumpkin can help you look younger (beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays), but the pulp also makes a great, all-natural face mask that exfoliates and soothes. All you need is 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie), an egg, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of milk. Mix, then apply it, wait for 20 minutes or so and wash it off with warm water.
Supports the immune system
As indicated by their bright orange colour, pumpkins contain beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A when consumed. Research has demonstrated that vitamin A plays an important role in supporting the immune system, of which around 80% is in the digestive system. Further research suggests that diet, including vitamin A, has a direct effect on immune system function.
Good for eye health
One of the health benefits of pumpkin is being good for eye health. A deficiency of vitamin A has been linked with reduced vision or even blindness. Beta-carotene, as well as vitamins C and E, can help protect eyes and reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases.