The 9 Health Benefits of Pumpkins and Pumpkin Seeds
They do look creepy or whimsical when they’re carved as jack-o’-lanterns. But these orange gourds offer many health benefits. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and beneficial phytochemicals.
Here are some of the health benefits of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkins for Sharp Eyes
A serving of cooked pumpkin (245g) contains 245% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A. This vitamin promotes good vision especially in low light. It also produces the pigments in the retina of the eyes. That’s why it’s also known as a retinol.
The bright orange color of pumpkins comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that turns into more Vitamin A inside the body for additional eye-boosting powers.
Pumpkins also contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are essential antioxidants that protect the eyes from harmful light.
Pumpkins for Weight Loss
Jonny Bowden calls the pumpkin “one of the great weight loss foods of all time.” A serving of one-half cup contains 8 grams of fiber and only 40 calories. Bonus points for easy preparation.
Great for Your Skin
The antioxidants in pumpkins fight free radicals that speed up aging. Pumpkins contain vitamin C, A and E and beta-carotene.
Vitamin C protects the skin from free radicals. It also helps the production of collagen which contributes to better skin tone and elasticity.
Niacin and folate, also found in pumpkins, improve blood circulation which, in turn, helps renew cells.
Excellent for Liver and Heart Health
Our adrenal glands work extra hard when we are under stress. The adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline, both of which require salt. Thus the adrenal glands become depleted of salt. That’s why we crave salty foods when we’re under a lot of stress.
Too much salt is bad for those with liver disease. Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, don’t have to be salted to satisfy our cravings. Its flavor is enough to satiate us.
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in healthy fats, fibers and antioxidants that are beneficial to the heart and liver.
Pumpkin Seeds Can Help You Sleep Better
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that changes into serotonin which in turn is transformed into melatonin in the body. Melatonin is known as the ‘sleep hormone’. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, snack on pepitas before going to bed.
Serotonin is also known as an excellent mood booster.
Improved Bladder Control for Women
Pumpkin seeds are known to be rich in phytoesterols and essential fatty acids that help improve bladder health in women particularly after menopause. Taking 250 mg of pumpkin seed extract twice a day for a period of two weeks is seen to improve incontinence in women.
Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Phytoestrogen extract when taken from pumpkin seeds is showing promise against breast cancer. Pumpkin seed extract contains lignans and flavones that may be used to prevent and even treat breast cancer in the future.
Energy Booster After Work-Outs
Potassium is important to balance electrolytes in the body after heavy exercise. One cup of cooked pumpkin can provide 16% of your total potassium needs. It’s better than bananas when it comes to potassium content.
Powerful Immune Booster
In a Dr. Oz video, Dr. John la Pluma says beta-carotene in pumpkin is one of the best immunity boosters around.
Pumpkin seeds in particular are rich in zinc which helps the body in many different ways including boosting our immune system.
Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious foods that can be used in preparing a great variety of meals from pies to smoothies. Here are some mouth-watering pumpkin recipes that you can try out.