Pumpkin is a fall favorite, but it also contains vitamins and minerals that can improve your health.
Before you visit your local pumpkin patch or stop by your local grocery store, here are some facts about pumpkins.
Pumpkins can help your eyesight
Experts say pumpkins are an excellent source of vitamin A. This is important for eye health.
Christie Gagnon is a registered dietitian and blogger at Hoorah to Health. She said that pumpkins contain vitamin A, which can lower the chance of developing cataracts (a common cause of blindness).
Michelle Rauch, a Registered Dietitian at The Actors Fund Home in Englewood (New Jersey), says Vitamin A can also help promote “good eyesight.”
Rauch said, “It plays a significant part in the formation and maintenance of soft and skeletal muscle tissue, bone, and mucus membranes.”
According to WebMD, a medical news website, lutein (a plant pigment) and zeaxanthin (a compound found in pumpkins that support vision health) are two additional compounds that can be found in pumpkins.
One of WebMD’s registered dietitians reviewed an article that stated that a single-cup pumpkin can provide 200% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
Your eyes will be grateful that you have it. Vitamin A is good for your eyes and helps you see clearly in low light conditions, WebMD’s article “Health Benefits of Pumpkin” states.
Pumpkins can boost immunity
Pumpkins, in addition to vitamin A, are high sources of vitamin C. This nutrient has been long associated with immunity boosting.
Mackenzie Burgess is a registered dietitian who also develops recipes for Cheerful Choices. This blog focuses on simple meals and offers nutritional advice.
Burgess stated that with flu season right around the corner, eating more pumpkins could be a great way of supporting your immune system.
Pumpkins can help you keep limber
Bananas don’t have to be the only fruits rich in potassium. Pumpkins are a good source of minerals.
Kimberly Baker, director of Clemson Extension Food System and Safety Program, stated that cooked pumpkin contains 250 mg of potassium in a half-cup. “Potassium is essential for contracting muscles and maintaining normal blood pressure. It also regulates fluid and mineral balance in the cells.
She said, “Males over 19 years old should consume about 3,400 mg of potassium per daily, while females over 19 years should consume 2,600 mg potassium per Day unless a registered dietitian or doctor tells them otherwise.”
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), has published a potassium fact sheet that matches Baker’s nutrition guidelines for people who do not have any medical conditions that “impaired potassium excretion”, or aren’t taking medications that “impermeable potassium excretion.”
According to Medscape, which provides information to physicians and is owned by WebMD, approximately 90% of potassium is excreted via urine.
Weight loss is possible with the help of pumpkins
Burgess suggests that pumpkins can be your secret weapon if you are looking to lose a few extra pounds while eating a healthier diet.
Burgess stated that pumpkin is good for weight loss. “Pumpkin is largely made of water so it is low-calorie and still contains many nutrients.” Try adding pumpkin to your diet with pumpkin soup, pumpkin oatmeal, or roasted pumpkin.
Pumpkins increase fiber and lower cholesterol
Rauch says that pumpkins are rich in fiber which can provide a variety of benefits including satisfying hunger and lowering “bad” cholesterol (also known as low-density lipoprotein).
She also mentioned other benefits of fiber-based products, such as improved bowel health or lower blood sugar spikes.
Rauch stated that pumpkin is rich in fiber. Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, and manganese. “Canned pumpkin has seven grams of fiber per cup.”
Pumpkins are high in skin-saving antioxidants
Antioxidants are abundant in pumpkins. These molecules protect cells against damage from free radicals, which are unstable atoms. According to Harvard Medical School, antioxidants neutralize these atoms which slow down the aging process.
Baker stated that beta-carotene is one of the most common antioxidants found in pumpkins. Baker said, “Beta Carotene, an antioxidant, can provide anti-inflammatory benefits [and] protect the skin from aging.”