Many people know the pumpkin as that spooky-faced symbol of Halloween, not to mention the delicious filling of their favorite pie on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other special occasions. But pumpkins are far more than a holiday-themed decoration or dessert. This big member of the gourd family offers a whole lot of health boosting benefits, including nutrients that help you fight cancer, boost your immunity and more!
Here are some of the great health benefits of the great pumpkin:
Pumpkins for better eyes: Pumpkins contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant and pigment that is responsible for the fruit’s bright orange color. In clinical trials, patients who were given doses of beta-carotene showed a reduced risk of developing cataracts, along with decreased macular degeneration-or degeneration of the eye retina as a result of aging.
Pumpkins for better skin: Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A, also known as retinol, in the body. Retinol helps to nourish skin cells and keep them moisturized and healthy.
Pumpkins for heart health: Pumpkins are rich in potassium, an electrolyte and mineral that’s vital for healthy heart function. In fact, inadequate potassium intake has been linked to heart arrythmias and, in severe cases, death. The antioxidant beta-carotene also fights free radicals, which damage cells and can contribute to heart disease.
Pumpkins for better bones: The potassium in pumpkins contributes to greater bone mineral density, which means stronger bones that are less likely to become brittle or break as you age.
Pumpkins for reduced cancer risk: Those free radicals that can harm your heart also contribute to your risk of cancer. Beta-carotene helps combat those free radicals and reduces your chances of developing cancer.
Pumpkins for a healthy immune system: Pumpkins serve up a healthy dose of Vitamin C, which can help improve immune system function. Vitamin C also contributes to collagen production, which is necessary for tissue growth and repair. According to some studies, Vitamin C may help with wound healing, allergy treatment and even help keep your gums healthy.
Pumpkin seeds for added nutrition: Think that the health boost from pumpkins stops at the sweet, mushy meat? Think again! Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients, including: zinc, iron, magnesium, protein and omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Protein provides energy that helps keep you feeling full. The iron in the seeds aids in the production of red blood cells. Zinc assists your physical growth, digestion and immune system function. Magnesium plays a role in muscle function and the production of energy in your body, and omega fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammation and some cancers.
The next time you carve open a pumpkin, consider the wealth of health benefits to be found in those delicious innards-seeds and all. Any time of year is a good time to enjoy this great-for-you fruit, so go find your favorite pumpkin-filled recipe and cook up a dinner, snack or dessert with a major boost of nutrients and good health!
- http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/hec/FNH-00561N.pdf (pumpkin seeds)
- http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/betacarotene (beta-carotene);
- http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/potassium/ (potassium);
- http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-c-ascorbic-acid (Vitamin C)
- http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-a-retinol (Vitamin A)
- http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/magnesium/ (magnesium)
- http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/omega-3/ (Omega 3 & Omega 6 acids)
Originally posted 2013-10-31 11:11:38.