Pumpkin is an extremely nutrient dense food, meaning it is chock-full of vitamins and minerals but low on calories.
Possible health benefits of consuming pumpkin
Blood pressure: Eating pumpkin is good for the heart! The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health. Consuming adequate potassium is almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for treatment of hypertension (high-blood pressure). Other foods that are high in potassium include cantaloupe, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, spinach and bananas.
Increased potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.7
Cancer: One particular type of cancer where research has shown a positive benefits of a diet rich in beta-carotene is prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition.5 Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.4
Eye Health: The antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene (all of which pumpkin has) have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A higher intake of all fruits (3 or more servings per day) has also been shown to decrease the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Fertility: For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beets appear to promote fertility, according Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in pumpkin (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.
Immunity: Plant foods like pumpkins that are high in both vitamin C and beta-carotene offer an immunity boost from their powerful combination of nutrients.
How to incorporate more pumpkin into your diet:Although the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkins is perfectly edible, look for the sweet or pie pumpkin varieties for cooking, which are smaller and sweeter. Make sure your pumpkin has a few inches of stem left and that it is hard and heavy for its size. Store uncut pumpkins in a cool dark place for up to two months.
- Make your own pumpkin puree instead of buying canned
- Use pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin in place of oil or butter in any baking recipe
So put some pumpkin in your diet and if you are looking for a pumpkin recipe, you can check out some of these on my Pinterest board.
My friend Jen has some more interesting facts about the benefits of pumpkin. Check out her post on 13 health benefits of pumpkins according to science, and 8 delicious pumpkin recipes.
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