What’s not to love about pumpkins. There are Jack-o-lanterns at Halloween, pumpkin pie and other pumpkin spice treats during the autumn season. How about the classic movie, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
It may interest you to know there is more to these big orange gourds than Halloween and sugary desserts and drinks. Pumpkins also have numerous health benefits as well.
It’s technically a fruit
Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that’s in the same plant family as cucumbers and melons. It’s technically a fruit since it contains seeds. But in terms of nutrition, it’s more like a vegetable.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion. Pumpkin keeps you feeling fuller longer. There are seven grams of fiber in a cup of canned pumpkin. That’s more than what you would get in two slices of whole-grain bread.
Pumpkin may be filling, but it’s also a low-calorie superstar. Canned pumpkin is nearly 90 percent water, so besides the fact that it helps keep you hydrated, it has fewer than 50 calories per serving.
Pumpkin’s brilliant orange coloring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.
Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.
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.
Younger looking skin
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.
Lower cancer risk
Beta-carotene is great for your eyes and skin, but it’s also good for fighting cancer. Research shows people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.
It (may) help treat diabetes
In scientific tests, pumpkin has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and increase the amount of insulin the body produces. More testing needs to be done before we can say for sure what pumpkin’s benefits for diabetics will be, but if you have diabetes, munching on pumpkin certainly won’t hurt.