Find out why the nutrient-packed pumpkin is a all-around great source of vitamins as well as a delicious food to include in your diet.
The Nutrient-Packed Pumpkin
As the pumpkin plants in your garden reach out their arms to
stretch in the sun, you can get a jump on menu planning to make
these bright globes part of a healthy fall and winter diet.
The orange color of pumpkins shows off the vegetable’s plentiful
offering of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body.
A diet rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk for some types of
cancer as well as helping to prevent heart disease, according to
Phyllis Balch and James Balch in their book Prescription for
Nutritional Healing (Avery, 2000). Pumpkin is also beneficial in
the treatment of prostate disorders and irritable bladder. It
contains valuable amino acids, vitamins A and B, calcium, and even
essential fatty acids in the form of omega-3s and omega-6s.
The zinc found in pumpkins is a key mineral in an overall
healthy diet. It is important for prostate gland function and the
immune system, and is a necessary component in maintaining the
proper concentration of vitamin E in the blood, Balch and Balch
Pumpkin seeds have their own health benefits. Although they’re
often the part of the pumpkin that gets discarded, the seeds are
full of energizing nutrition and are used as an herbal remedy
throughout the world. Pumpkin seeds are a power food, offering
vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc, iron, protein, and B
vitamins, writes Karen Sullivan in Natural Home Remedies (Element,
1997). They also harbor the pumpkin’s essential fatty acid content.
According to Germany’s Commission E, pumpkin seeds are used for
irritated bladder conditions and benign prostatic hyperplasia. In
his book Healing with Whole Foods (North Atlantic, 1993), Paul
Pitchford writes that pumpkin seeds support the urinary tract and
may help expel intestinal worms. They also fight free radicals,
earning them a place in cancer prevention. Sometimes called
pepitas, the tasty green seeds also have the reputation of acting
as an aphrodisiac. Roasted seeds are a popular snack.
Unfortunately, while roasting improves the seeds’ flavor, it
decreases their omega-3 content, according to Pitchford.
Pumpkin seed oil, pressed from the seeds, is a tasty way to get
your “good” fats. It is one of the top nutritional oils, providing
a high content of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. I have a
friend who discovered pumpkin seed oil in Austria and now uses it
in homemade salad dressings to increase his EFA consumption because
he enjoys the nutty taste. This deep-green oil is increasingly
available at health-food stores. Try a simple salad dressing using
two parts apple-cider vinegar, one part pumpkin seed oil, and salt
Read more about soybean foods and your health: Natural Healing Using Soybean Foods.