Pumpkin is a squash variety that is usually associated with Halloween decorations and Thanksgiving pie filling. Outside of common holidays, however, the flesh of the pumpkin plant offers a number of health benefits.
Pumpkin can be used in a variety of ways, including desserts, soups, salads, preserves, and even as a butter substitute.
Here, we look at the many health benefits of pumpkins, as well as a nutritional breakdown and ideas for how to integrate pumpkin into a balanced diet.
One of the best-known sources of beta carotene is pumpkin, which has a long list of benefits.
Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. Any ingested beta carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body.
The following are some of the advantages of consuming foods rich in beta carotene:
- lowering the risk of some cancers
- Providing protection against asthma and heart disease
- lowering the risk of macular degeneration due to age
Many studies have found that consuming more plant-based foods like pumpkin reduces the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It may also aid in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease, as well as the promotion of a healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and a healthy body mass index (BMI).
The following health benefits have been shown through research:
Regulating blood pressure
Pumpkin is beneficial to the heart. Pumpkin’s fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content all help to keep the heart healthy.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Typically, lowering sodium intake entails consuming low-salt or no-salt meals.
Potassium consumption may also minimize the risk of other forms of CVD, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements.
To confirm the effects of pumpkin consumption on stroke and CVD risk, further research is required.
Lowering the cancer risk
Diabetes prevention and treatment
Pumpkin in the diet can aid in the management of diabetes and blood sugar levels.
In a 2019 report, mice with elevated blood sugar levels were given a mixture of two plant extracts, one of which was pumpkin polysaccharides.
Despite the fact that the study did not include humans, the findings suggest that these plant compounds may have the ability to reduce type 2 diabetes.
Scientists may be able to rework them into an anti-diabetic drug due to their effect on blood sugar, but further research is required.
Assists in the prevention of age-related vision disorders.
Antioxidants are abundant in pumpkins. In older adults, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene help to maintain eye health and avoid degenerative damage.
The National Eye Institute conducted a clinical trial in 2019 called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).
High doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene were linked to a substantially lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, according to the findings.
According to the FoodData Central database of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 cup or 245 grams (g) of fried, boiled, or drained pumpkin, without salt, contains:
- 1.76 g of protein
- 2.7 g of fiber
- 49 calories (kcal)
- 0.17 g of fat
- 0 g of cholesterol
- 12 g of carbohydrate
Pumpkin also contains a number of important vitamins and minerals, such as:
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
- vitamin B-6
- pantothenic acid
Pumpkins have a lot of fiber in them. Fiber consumption for adults should be between 25 and 38 grams per day.
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, encourages daily bowel movements, and aids digestion. Consuming enough fiber can also help to lower the risk of colon cancer.
Adding pumpkin to a daily diet will help a person increase their fiber intake, as it contains nearly 3 g of fiber in 1 cup of cooked, fresh pumpkin and more than 7 g in canned pumpkin.
People will eat more pumpkin in a variety of ways. The healthiest option is to prepare fresh pumpkin at home, but canned pumpkin is also a good option. Many of the health benefits of pumpkin are retained during the canning process.
People should stop eating canned pumpkin pie mix on a daily basis. This is usually next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores and is often in a similar can. It has sugars and syrups added to it.
Pumpkin can be the only ingredient in canned pumpkin.
Although the pumpkins used to make jack-o-lanterns are edible, it is preferable to cook with sweet or pie pumpkin varieties.
Make sure the stem of the pumpkin is still attached. It should also be hard and heavy for its size. Uncut pumpkins can be kept for up to two months in a cold, dark place.
Here are several easy ways to incorporate pumpkin into a healthy diet:
- Instead of buying canned pumpkin puree, make your own.
- In any baking recipe, use pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin instead of oil or butter.
- Combine Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin, honey, cinnamon, and cocoa powder to make a quick treat of pumpkin chocolate yogurt.
- Age-related eye disease study. (2019).
- Chen, X., et al. (2019). Synergistic hypoglycemic effects of pumpkin polysaccharides and puerarin on type II diabetes mellitus mice.
- What are the health benefits of pumpkins? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610
- Dietary fiber. (2019).
- Gong, X., et al. (2016). Mitochondrial β-carotene 9′,10′ oxygenase modulates prostate cancer growth via NF-KB inhibition: A lycopene-independent function [Abstract].
- Increasing fiber intake. (n.d.).
- Kim, Y., et al. (2016) Polyphenols and glycemic controls.
- Larson, H. (2017). Easy ways to boost fiber in your daily diet.
- Okuyama, Y., et al. (2014). Inverse associations between serum concentrations of zeaxanthin and other carotenoids and colorectal neoplasm in Japanese [Abstract].
- Pumpkin. (n.d.).
- Pumpkin, cook, boiled, drained, without salt. (2019).
- Pumpkins and more. (n.d.).
- Vinceti, M., et al. (2016). Meta-analysis of potassium intake and the risk of stroke.
- Ware, L. J., et al. (2017). Associations between dietary salt, potassium and blood pressure in South African adults: WHO SAGE Wave 2 Salt & Tobacco [Abstract].