6 Reasons to Add Pumpkin in Your Diet
Pumpkins are not only great for holiday decorations, but they’re also great to eat! From jack-o-lanterns to pumpkin pie, it’s no wonder they’re so popular.
There are definite health benefits to incorporating pumpkin in your diet.
Generally, pumpkin is comprised of:
- 88% carbohydrates
- 3% fats
- 9% proteins
The following are the main nutrients contained in about 1 cup, or 245 grams, of cooked (mashed) pumpkin, including daily value percentages.
- Calories: 49 (2%)
- Dietary fiber: 3 g (10%)
- Carbohydrates: 12 g (4%)
- Fat: 0.2 g (0%)
- Protein: 1.8 g (4%)
- Vitamin A: 2650 iU (245%)
- Vitamin C: 11.5 mg (19%)
- Zinc: 1 mg (10%)
- Calcium: 36.7 mg (4%)
- Iron: 1.4 mg (8%)
- Potassium: 564 mg (16%)
Other pumpkin nutrients include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Omega-6 fatty acids
- Amino acids
Here are the six amazing health benefits of pumpkin:
#1: Low in Calories
If you’re exploring a low-calorie diet plan, you can safely incorporate pumpkins. A 245-gm serving contains about 50 calories, which is only 2% of the recommended daily total. That leaves plenty of room for other healthy ingredients in your meals, especially fruits and vegetables.
Also note that pumpkin is rich in dietary fiber and contains about 230 grams of water per 245 grams when cooked. This means that each pumpkin meal tends to keep you fuller and hydrated for longer. The fuller you feel all day, the easier it is to avoid unhealthy cravings.
#2: Strengthens Your Immune System
Regular pumpkin intake can improve your body’s defense against disease.
According to research, this popular squash contains beta carotene, a beneficial antioxidant that boosts immune system. Pumpkin also provides vitamin C which helps protect your body against infection and promote healing.
#3: Helps Your Eye Health
Even if you’re not genetically predisposed to developing eye disorders, it’s always best to find ways to protect your vision. Studies show that the beta carotene in pumpkin is among a group of natural antioxidants that may protect the eye in ways including:
- Blocking certain components of visible light from damaging the retina and lens
- Preventing eye inflammation
- Preventing functional defects that could cause eye disease or vision loss
#4: Rich in Antioxidants and Helps Lower the Risk of Cancer
Pumpkin is a good source of antioxidants that can lower your risk of developing cancerous growths in your body. The primary role of antioxidants is to prevent oxidation in the body—a process that produces free radicals (harmful molecules) and chain reactions. They can help protect your body from cancer and other complications associated with oxidative-stress and damage to cells.
Some of the most notable antioxidants in pumpkin are flavonoids. One of these is called kaempferol, which researchers view as a potential ingredient for cancer therapy. This and other compounds have been shown to be effective in preventing the production of free radicals.
#5: Encourages Better Heart Health
A pumpkin-inclusive diet can help promote heart health. It can provide compounds that play a key role in preventing major heart-related issues. Particularly, pumpkin seeds contain fiber and magnesium, which according to the American Heart Association can reduce blood pressure and the risks of heart disease and obesity.
Flavonoids in pumpkin can reduce the risk of heart disease by minimizing the oxidation of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins).
#6: Promotes Good Sleep
You may improve the quality of your sleep by consuming pumpkin regularly. They contain tryptophan, a natural amino acid that can help you get better sleep. According to experts, high levels of tryptophan can impact sleep in several ways, including:
- Increasing sleep duration
- Decreasing nighttime movement
- Decreasing or eliminating waking up in the middle of sleep
- Enabling infants to fall asleep faster
As you look forward to the holidays, remember that pumpkin offers more than just decorative value. It can provide numerous health benefits when included in your diet. However, if you or a family member are not sure about including pumpkin into your diet, or experience any possible side effects, you should consult your physician or dietician.
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Category: Food and Nutrition