Although it may not seem like it, there’s far more to pumpkins than carving and pie. This orange vegetable deserves the title of superfood, because it has a huge range of health benefits, most of which people don’t even know about. Let’s take a look at the hidden health benefits of pumpkins, and why you should start incorporating them into your regular diet.
1. Weight Loss
Surprisingly, considering that it’s so high in fiber, pumpkin is an extremely low-calorie vegetable. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains a mere 49 calories, but you will feel satisfied for longer due to the fiber content. This aids in weight loss, because you’ll stay full for longer without having to digest a lot of calories. Furthermore, pumpkin is fat free!
2. Digestive Health
As we established previously, pumpkin is rich in fiber, which means it’s incredibly beneficial for the general well-being of your digestive system. In addition, it can be used as a home remedy for constipation. A single cup will make up roughly 11% of your daily recommended dose of fiber.
Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, which is the primary nutrient that works towards keeping your eyes healthy. Also, it helps in the health and maintenance of your immune and reproductive systems. The aforementioned half-cup of cooked pumpkin contains a staggering 953 mg of vitamin A.Your eye health is further aided by the zeaxanthin contained within the vegetable. Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant that helps to filter UV light in the macula lutea of your retinas. This is highly beneficial in preventing age-related macular degeneration, particularly later in life.
There is a fair amount of iron in pumpkins, which is particularly important if you are a vegetarian or vegan. You need iron because it it is one of the key components of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to different parts of your body. Iron deficiency can seriously affect your health, as well as deteriorate your mental capabilities and resistance to infection and disease. As such, it’s absolutely imperative to ensure you’re getting enough. One cup of pumpkin has just under 10% of your daily iron requirements.
5. Tissue Growth and Repair
One cup of pumpkin contains an impressive 20% of your required daily dose of vitamin C. This is important, because this nutrient is responsible for keeping your immune system healthy. It’s also needed to help your body repair old and create new tissue, which is imperative if you’re someone who likes to exercise.
6. Cancer Prevention
There’s a reason that pumpkins are that bright orange color, and it’s definitely not just for show! Like its other orange vegetable counterparts, pumpkins contains an antioxidant called beta-carotene. In addition to providing pumpkin with its distinct color, beta-carotene may also help prevent cancer, as tests have shown. Make sure you keep those seeds too, though, because studies have also shown that the plant sterols in them may also help fight off different kinds of cancer.
7. Exercise Supplement
Move over, bananas, there’s a new natural energy booster in town. Our single cup of pumpkin contains roughly 564 mg of potassium, whereas its yellow counterpart clocks in at only 422 mg. Potassium helps after a workout because it aids in restoring lost electrolytes as well as keeping your muscles working the way they should.
8. Bone and Heart Health
Just in case you haven’t had enough nutrients, pumpkin is also rich in vitamin K. Comparatively, this seems to be a lesser-known nutrient, but it’s incredibly important for your health. This is because it helps your bones to grow and keep your heart healthy. Luckily, a cup of pumpkin will provide you with 20% of your recommended daily dose.