Pumpkin is a winter squash belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family.
It is indigenous to North America and is especially popular around Thanksgiving and Halloween .
In the United States, pumpkin is commonly used to refer to Cucurbita pepo, an orange type of winter squash. In other countries, such as Australia, the term “pumpkin” can refer to any type of winter squash.
While pumpkin is commonly regarded as a vegetable, it is scientifically classified as a fruit due to the presence of seeds. However, it is more nutritionally similar to vegetables than fruits.
Aside from its delicious flavour, pumpkin is nutritious and has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Here are 9 impressive pumpkin nutrition and health benefits.
1. High in Nutrients and Particularly High in Vitamin A
Pumpkin has a high nutrient profile.
1 cup cooked pumpkin (245 g) contains:
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins
Aside from being high in vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also low in calories due to its 94 percent water content.
It also contains a lot of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body converts into vitamin A.
Furthermore, pumpkin seeds are edible, nutritious, and linked to a variety of health benefits.
Pumpkin has a high vitamin and mineral content while being low in calories. It’s also high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body converts to vitamin A.
2. A diet high in antioxidants may lower your risk of developing chronic diseases.
Free radicals are molecules produced by the metabolic process of your body. Despite being highly unstable, they serve a useful purpose, such as destroying harmful bacteria.
Excessive free radicals in your body, on the other hand, cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants found in pumpkins include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralise free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to your cells.
Animal and test-tube studies have shown that these antioxidants protect the skin from sun damage and reduce the risk of cancer, eye disease, and other conditions.
However, keep in mind that more human-based research is required to make health-related decisions.
Pumpkin contains antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and others that may protect your cells from free radical damage.
3. It contains vitamins that may help with immunity.
Pumpkin is high in nutrients that can help your immune system.
For starters, it contains a lot of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
According to research, vitamin A can boost your immune system and help you fight infections. People who are deficient in vitamin A, on the other hand, may have a weakened immune system.
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which has been shown to increase white blood cell production, aid immune cell function, and speed wound healing.
Aside from the two vitamins mentioned above, pumpkin is also high in vitamin E, iron, and folate, all of which have been shown to benefit the immune system.
Pumpkin contains a lot of vitamins A and C, which can help your immune system. Its vitamin E, iron, and folate content may also help to boost your immunity.
4. Vitamin A, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin Could Protect Your Vision
It is common for eyesight to deteriorate with age.
Fortunately, eating the right nutrients can reduce your chances of losing your sight. Pumpkin is high in nutrients that have been linked to good eyesight as you age.
Its beta-carotene content, for example, provides your body with essential vitamin A. According to research, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness.
Scientists discovered that people who consumed more beta-carotene had a significantly lower risk of cataracts, a common cause of blindness, in a meta-analysis of 22 studies.
Pumpkin is also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
It also contains adequate amounts of vitamins C and E, which act as antioxidants and may protect your eye cells from free radical damage.
The high vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin content of pumpkins may protect your eyes from age-related vision loss.
5. Weight Loss May Be Facilitated by Nutrient Density and a Low Calorie Count
Pumpkin is a high-nutrient-dense food.
That is, despite being high in nutrients, it has a very low calorie count.
In fact, pumpkin contains approximately 94 percent water and has a calorie count of less than 50 per cup (245 grammes).
Simply put, pumpkin is a weight-loss friendly food because it allows you to consume more of it than other carb sources, such as rice and potatoes, while still consuming fewer calories.
Furthermore, pumpkin is high in fibre, which can help you control your appetite.
Pumpkin is high in nutrients but has only 50 calories per cup (245 grams). As a result, it is a nutrient-dense food. It’s also high in fibre, which can help you lose weight.
6. Antioxidant Content May Reduce Your Cancer Risk
Cancer is a serious disease in which cells proliferate abnormally.
Cancer cells produce free radicals to aid in their rapid proliferation.
Carotenoids, which are compounds that can act as antioxidants, are abundant in pumpkin. This enables them to neutralise free radicals, potentially protecting against certain cancers.
For example, a meta-analysis of 13 studies found that people who consumed more alpha-carotene and beta-carotene had a significantly lower risk of stomach cancer.
Similarly, many other human studies have found that people who consume more carotenoids have a lower risk of developing throat, pancreas, breast, and other cancers.
However, scientists are unsure whether the carotenoids themselves or other factors — such as the lifestyle habits of those who consume carotenoids-rich diets — are to blame for these lower risks.
Carotenoids, found in pumpkins, act as antioxidants. These substances have been linked to a lower risk of stomach, throat, pancreas, and breast cancer.
7. Potassium, Vitamin C, and Fiber Could Improve Heart Health
Pumpkin contains a number of nutrients that can benefit your heart health.
It is high in potassium, vitamin C, and fibre, all of which have been linked to cardiovascular benefits.
For example, studies have found that people who consume more potassium appear to have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of stroke — two risk factors for heart disease.
Pumpkin is also high in antioxidants, which may prevent the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol particles oxidise, they can clump along the walls of blood vessels, narrowing them and increasing your risk of heart disease.
Pumpkin is high in potassium, vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants, all of which have been linked to improved heart health.
8. Compounds that promote healthy skin are present.
Pumpkins are high in nutrients that are beneficial to the skin.
For one thing, it’s high in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A.
In fact, one cup (245 grammes) of cooked pumpkin contains 245% of the RDI for vitamin A.
According to research, carotenoids such as beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock.
Carotenoids are transported to various organs, including your skin, after being ingested. They aid in the protection of skin cells against UV ray damage.
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which is necessary for good skin health. This vitamin is required by your body to produce collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy.
Furthermore, pumpkins contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and numerous other antioxidants that have been shown to improve your skin’s defences against UV rays.
Pumpkin contains a lot of beta-carotene, which is a natural sunblock. It also contains vitamins C and E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which can help keep your skin healthy and strong.
9. Extremely versatile and simple to incorporate into your diet
Pumpkin is delicious, versatile, and simple to incorporate into your diet.
Its sweet flavour makes it a popular addition to custards, pies, and pancakes. However, it also works well in savoury dishes like roasted vegetables, soups, and pastas.
Because pumpkins have a tough skin, slicing them requires some effort. Scoop out the seeds and any stringy parts before slicing the pumpkin into wedges.
The seeds are also edible and high in nutrients, which provide numerous other advantages. Pumpkin seeds, for example, may benefit bladder and heart health.
Pumpkin can also be purchased pre-cut or canned, giving you more options for recipes and preparation. When purchasing canned pumpkin, read the labels carefully because not all products will be 100 percent pumpkin and you may want to avoid added ingredients, particularly sugar.
Seasoning pumpkin with salt and pepper and roasting it in the oven is the simplest way to eat it. Many people enjoy making pumpkin soup with it, especially during the winter.
Once sliced and cut, pumpkin can be easily roasted, puréed into soup, or baked into pies. Its seeds are also edible and packed with nutrients.
Who Isn’t Allowed to Eat Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is very healthy and is considered safe for the majority of people.
However, some people may develop allergies after consuming pumpkin.
It’s also a mild diuretic, which means that eating a lot of pumpkin may cause a “water pill”-like reaction, increasing the amount of water and salt your body excretes through urine.
This effect may be harmful to people who are taking certain medications, such as lithium. Diuretics can impair your body’s ability to eliminate lithium, resulting in severe side effects.
Although pumpkin is nutritious, many pumpkin-based junk foods, such as lattés, candies, and pie fillings, are high in sugar. They don’t provide the same health benefits as eating the fruit.
When consumed in moderation, pumpkin is very healthy and generally safe. Avoid pumpkin-based junk foods, which are frequently high in added sugar.
Pumpkin is extremely healthy because it is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Furthermore, because of its low calorie content, it is a weight-loss-friendly food.
Its nutrients and antioxidants may help to boost your immune system, protect your vision, reduce your risk of certain cancers, and promote heart and skin health.
Pumpkin is a versatile vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
To reap the health benefits of pumpkin, try incorporating it into your diet today.