Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice and even pumpkin beer. With October’s arrival, pumpkin season is finally here! While pumpkins may seem frightening in their Jack-O-Lantern state, they are actually one of the most nutritious fruits out there. That’s right, pumpkins are actually fruits and they are loaded with antioxidants and disease-fighting vitamins. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the greatest health benefits of these superfood gourds.
Photo via Pura Botanica
Did you know that just one cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains over 200% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A? This is why pumpkins are great for helping to keep your eyesight sharp, especially in dim light. Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give them their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body then converts into Vitamin A for additional eyesight protection.
When it comes to weight loss, pumpkin is not often the first thing that comes to mind. However, with 3 grams of fiber for every cup, it can keep you feeling full for longer hours with fewer calories. Fiber-rich diets tend to help people eat less and therefore shed a few pounds. If you are one who is looking to lose some weight, try adding pumpkin into your diet for quick results.
Just like the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash, pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a major role in cancer prevention, according to a study done by the National Cancer Institute. They found that food sources high in beta-carotene seem to help more than simple supplements. Even more reason to scoop up some pumpkin seeds for your next meal.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is the famed ingredient in turkey that many believe brings on the post-Thanksgiving snooze. While experts agree that it’s likely overeating rather than tryptophan that puts you to sleep, there is no doubt that the amino acid is important for the production of serotonin, a major player when it comes to controlling your mood. Just a small handful of pumpkin seeds may help your outlook stay bright.
Pumpkin seeds can help your body get rid of nasty gut parasites that can make you sick, according to licensed pharmacist of Living Well Magazine, Debbie Edson. She states that “They have traditionally been used for this purpose by Native Americans and even today pumpkin seeds are used to treat tapeworms in some parts of Africa.”
Photo via Pura Botanica
Pumpkin: It’s that time of year. While most pumpkin-flavored treats should be added to the once-in-a-while list, pumpkin itself is actually one of the healthier foods of the season and now you know why. Next time someone mentions pumpkin spice, it’s OK to be totally obsessed with this season’s superfood.
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