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Pumpkin Health Benefits

Pumpkins for All: More than Just Fall Decor

By Mildred J. Perea-Bonet, MD | PHCA Lutz Office
October 2019

Happy fall, you all! I am sure you are seeing tons of pumpkins at your grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and large department stores. It is the time of the year where this amazing fruit gets so much attention.  Let me tell you that they are so much more than just cute fall decoration. They are packed with vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of them include: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, copper, manganese and riboflavin. They are also a source of iron, folate, beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acids, Vitamin B-6 and thiamin.

How do these nutrients help me, you may ask?

Sharp Vision

Beta-carotene, the rich antioxidant that gives pumpkins their bright orange color is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is super important for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light.  Did you know that 1 cup of pumpkin contains over 200% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A?

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two other antioxidants found in the orange beauty and they can help prevent cataracts and even slow the development of macular degeneration.

Immune Boosters

The Vitamin A provided by the fruit improves the functioning of the immune system and helps you fight infections better. It also has Vitamin C, 20% of the recommended daily amount, which we all know can help boost our immunity as well.

Skin

Did you know that the beta-carotene found in pumpkins can help protect us from the sun’s UV rays? Yes, it does. The same UV rays that can cause wrinkles. Please take note, juggling mamas. You never considered a pumpkin patch as a source of younger looking skin. You could even make a DIY face mask to soothe your skin and exfoliate it.

Cancer Prevention

All the antioxidants found in pumpkins, like Vitamins A and C, can help protect you against the damage of free-radicals. Free radicals can be hazardous to the body and damage all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. The damage to cells caused by free radicals, especially the damage to DNA, may play a role in the development of cancer.

Heart Health

The fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C found in pumpkins can help you maintain a healthy heart.  Natural potassium intake from pumpkins may help regulate your blood pressure. It may also help you maintain healthy weight since there are only 49 calories in 1 cup of cooked pumpkin, 0 grams of cholesterol, and the fiber in it makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time.

Gut Health

Most of the time we do not consume enough fiber in our diet. Did you know that 1 cup of pumpkin contains 2.7 g of fiber? Fiber slows down the rate of blood sugar absorption. It also helps you have more regular bowel movements and improves digestion. Adequate fiber intake can help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

 

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Heading back to the grocery store to buy a pumpkin and instead of carving it, I am eating it!

You can incorporate your pumpkins into different recipes this season:

  • Add it to your favorite homemade juice and smoothie mixing it with your favorite fruits.
  • Add it to your soups and stews.
  • Roast it with your favorite vegetables and serve it as a side.
  • Bake chunks of it with your meats to provide some fall flavor.

Enjoy your pumpkins, everybody!