From eye health to mood, here are five health benefits of pumpkin to love.
There’s no doubt that America has a pumpkin obsession. It seems that the second the weather gets cooler and the leaves change colors, everything becomes pumpkin spice this or pumpkin-flavored that. Though we should steer clear of the “fake” stuff, real pumpkin (including canned pumpkin!) is actually extremely nutrient dense, low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals.
Here are five health benefits of pumpkins so you'll feel a little bit less guilty when reaching for that second slice of pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin is low in calories (49 calories in one cup, mashed) and high in fiber (three grams per cup) and protein (two grams per cup) so it makes you feel fuller for longer.
High fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Fiber protects the heart by binding with LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) before it’s absorbed. It also helps maintaining weight and lowering blood pressure, which contributes to a healthy heart. Pumpkin also contains more potassium that a banana (563 mg in a cup!) and a lot of zinc, which helps with stalling the onset of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Beta-carotene, the naturally occurring orange pigment found in fruits and vegetables, is an antioxidant that reduces oxygen damage caused by UV light, pollution and other environmental hazards. It has free-radical neutralizing powers, which in turn can protect us from the suns rays and thus, wrinkles.
Beta-carotene, antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin E in have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage. Pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A, which is essential for eye health as it helps the retina absorb and process light. Pumpkins also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been found to prevent cataracts.
Sleep and Mood
Pumpkins seeds are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that is the precursor to melatonin, the sleep hormone and serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. They also contain glutamate, the “anti-stress neurochemical.”
Want more? Check out our story on pumpkin power.