Mostly known for being a part of Halloween decorations or a pie filling, pumpkins are also packed with nutrition and offer a wide range of health benefits. Pumpkins are a storehouse of vitamins, mineral and other healthy nutrients. Whether it is the pulp or the seeds, pumpkins are great for your health and can offer some incredible benefits.
Nutritional Composition of Pumpkins
High Carotenoids Content – Pumpkins owe their bright Orange color to the high amount of carotenoids present in them. Carotenoids assist in staving off the free radicals in the body, and help in preventing premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and other infections. They are also high in Lutein & Zeaxanthin which protect the eyes against free radical damage and prevent formation of cataracts and degeneration of the eye tissues.
Protein – Pumpkin seeds also known as Pepitas are a rich source of protein. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains approx. 7 grams of protein. Their oil is high in phytosterols or plant-based fatty acids and their chemical composition is the same as cholesterol. Phytosterols can replace cholesterol in the body, and help in reducing the blood cholesterol levels.
Essential Fatty Acids – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits. From providing protection against serious health diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis and cancer to promoting healthy skin and improving brain power, essential fatty acids present in pumpkin oil offer several health benefits.
Vitamin A – Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A. Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.
Vitamin C - Vitamin C helps fight free radicals, improves immunity and promotes the production of collagen. The high Vitamin C content in pumpkins also offers protection against various forms of cancer.
Magnesium - Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral required for various biological functions. Magnesium is also required for the maintenance bones and teeth.
Potassium & Zinc – Pumpkin is loaded with potassium and Zinc. Studies show that eating a potassium-rich diet can prevent onset of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension. Zinc is important for providing bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis. It boosts the immune system and promotes reproductive health.
Fiber – Pumpkin flesh is very low in calories and contains abundant quantities of extremely good dietary fiber. It is extremely effective for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, indigestion etc. The high amount of fiber also helps in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood and in regulating the blood sugar levels.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Flesh and Seeds
Prostate Cancer – The protective compounds present within the pumpkin seeds, called phytosterols can lower the risk of prostate cancer. These work by shrinking the prostate and stimulating the secretion of chemicals that protect against the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High DHT levels can cause enlargement of the prostate glands.
Anti-Inflammatory Effect – The Beta carotene present in pumpkin seeds and flesh has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of pumpkin can protect against joint inflammation and arthritis. Pumpkins have been known to provide relief from inflammation quickly, without the harmful side-effects of anti-inflammatory medicines.
Great on your skin – The high amount of Vitamin A, C and E as well as Zinc present in pumpkin, make it a great choice for those who want a healthy and glowing skin. Have a cup of pumpkin seeds per day to prevent appearance of wrinkles and to keep your skin hydrated and nourished.
Prevents Kidney Stones – Have 5 to 10 grams of pumpkin seeds every day. This stimulates the kidneys and prevents the formation of calcium oxalate stones.
Depression – Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.
Treatment of Parasites – In various cultures especially China, pumpkins are used to treat infections caused by tapeworms and other parasites.
Diuretics – Pumpkins are natural diuretics. These help in flushing out the toxins and unwanted waste material from the body, leaving you refreshed and healthy.
With so many health benefits, it is no wonder that pumpkin is an important part of the list of Super Foods. Next time you are carving a pumpkin, do not throw away the pulp or the seeds – instead boil, bake or cook them in any form you like.