The Top 5 Health Benefits of Pumpkin
It’s about that time again where the leaves are changing colors and there’s a crispness in the air. Spiced beverages are making their reappearance while everyone readies themselves for the fall season. And, of course , it wouldn’t be fall season without a trip to the pumpkin patch. Pumpkins have been a long-time symbol for Autumn and Halloween affectionados, inspiring ideas for decorations, frothy drinks, and baked goods. But pumpkins also have powerful health benefits that can aid in your journey toward holistic health. Here are the top five health benefits of fall’s signature squash:
1. Beta-Carotene: A Powerful Antioxidant
One cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Pumpkins are overflowing with beta-carotene (an antioxidant that gives it it’s rich orange color and converts into a form of vitamin A) that aids in vision, skin disorders, and boosts immunity. Studies have shown that this carotenoid also aids in the prevention of certain types of cancers like lung, breast, and prostate cancer by protecting the cells from free radicals and improving cellular communication.
2. Aids in Weight Loss
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, increasing fiber intake is one of the key dietary guidelines toward improving your health. Pumpkins provide a high source of fiber which aids in keeping your weight under control and keeping your digestive system regular. It also helps you slow down on your eating so that your body can detect when it’s full. The daily recommended intake for fiber is about 20 to 35 grams. One cup of canned or cooked pumpkin provides about 7 grams of fiber.
3. Pumpkin Seeds are Heart Healthy
Pumpkin seeds are high in phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant components that aid in keeping stable levels of cholesterol and help reduce the risk of heart disease. ”Because they have very low systemic absorption and are already present in healthy diets, increasing the intake of phytosterols may be a practical way to reduce coronary heart disease with minimum risk”, according to a study done by the Department of Internal Medicine.
4. Boosts Your Mood
Just like turkey, pumpkins are a natural source of L-tryptophan, an amino acid important to the production of serotonin. Serotonin can help stabilize your moods by helping to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
5. Natural Skin Enhancer
As mentioned previously, pumpkins are an excellent source or carotenoids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, and E. Beta-carotene is a great anti-aging carotenoid that helps neutralizes free radicals and fights wrinkles. The essential fatty acids help to provide protection from high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer and promote healthy skin by improving elasticity. Vitamins A, C, and E also help cleanse and hydrate the skin. To reap the benefits of the powerful antioxidants in pumpkin, make sure you save the pulp and add it to your skincare recipes or baked goods.
Pumpkin makes a wonderful addition to your beauty and health regime. Weather you add the pulp to your fall juice cleanse, eat the fiber-rich seeds as a healthy snack, or make an exfoliating pumpkin body scrub, pumpkin is a powerful squash that you can add to your holistic health food arsenal.
- DiGiovanna JJ. Retinoid chemoprevention in patients at high risk for skin cancer. Med Pediatr Oncol 2001;36:564-7.
Courtney Chapman is the founder of Holistic Ebony.