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Pumpkin is a fruit that belongs to the cucurbita family. It comes in various shapes and sizes and packs an interesting flavour when you use it in your dishes. Let’s take a look at its health benefits and more below.
Nutritional Profile of Pumpkin
Is pumpkin good for health? Here’s a glimpse into its nutritional profile to understand what you get in a cup of cooked pumpkin.
|Nutrient||Amount (per cup of cooked pumpkin)|
|Vitamin A||245% of RDI|
|Vitamin C||19% of RDI|
|Vitamin B2||11% of RDI|
|Vitamin E||10% of RDI|
|Iron||8% of RDI|
|Potassium||16% of RDI|
Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin
There are numerous pumpkin benefits for skin, weight loss, and your overall well-being. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Promotes Weight Loss
Although pumpkin is a fruit, it’s 94% water – this means it’s very low in calories!
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, adding some pumpkin to your diet will help. Since it is nutritionally dense, it also means you’ll be feeling nourished with fewer calories, thus packing on little to no pounds. This is one of the best advantages of pumpkin consumption.
2. Rich Source of Antioxidants
Your body produces free radicals to fight against stress, harmful bacteria, and other elements inside the body which lead to illnesses. However, the presence of too many free radicals in the body can lead to oxidative stress – a condition that is linked to cases like heart disease and cancer. Since pumpkin is high in antioxidants, it neutralises free radicals in your body, thus preventing oxidative stress.
There are a few studies done on humans and animals which show how a higher intake of antioxidants is linked to lower instances of eye illnesses, cancer, protection from sun damage, and other possible medical conditions. However, more research is required in those areas.
3. Boosts Immunity
Pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, a nutrient known for boosting immunity. Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body which is used to strengthen your immune system. There’s also a high amount of Vitamin C in pumpkin which boosts your white blood cell production.
A higher white blood cell count means you’ll be less likely to fall sick from infections, heal wounds faster, and in general, stay a lot healthier. Besides Vitamin A and C, there is folate, Vitamin E and iron in pumpkin which play a role in building a strong immune system. Due to its nutrient profile and high-fibre content, there are pumpkin benefits for babies too, so feed them pumpkin puree!
4. Shields Your Eyesight
Macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are common eye problems people face as they grow older. The good news is that eating a cup of cooked pumpkin is a good way of preventing them. Pumpkin contains two essential nutrients for maintaining healthy vision – lutein and zeaxanthin.
The high amounts of Vitamin A in pumpkin have also been shown to prevent blindness. Add to that the Vitamin C and E content and you’ve got a nutrient-dense food that protects your eye cells from free-radical damage.
5. Is Anti-ageing by Nature
Since pumpkin has high levels of vitamin C and various antioxidants, it protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. Besides this, pumpkin juice for skin is known to boost collagen production, which plays a huge role in improving its texture, tone, and elasticity. More collagen in your body also means fewer wrinkles, fine lines, and more flawless looking skin. Collagen is synthesised from high levels of Vitamin C, and research proves that.
6. Protects Your Heart
Pumpkin is known to protect your heart by freeing up your arteries from any build-ups and plaque-deposits. One of the many white pumpkin juice benefits is that it reduces incidences of heart attacks and strokes. The high levels of antioxidants in pumpkin are known to prevent atherosclerosis, and pumpkin is also known to regulate blood pressure levels in the body. A regulated blood pressure also means your cholesterol levels are kept in check, which is something you definitely want.
7. It Flushes out Toxins
Amongst the many pumpkin juice benefits, one great one is that it naturally detoxifies your body and cleanses your internal organs. In fact, it is a natural diuretic, which means it helps your kidneys filter and function optimally. Yellow pumpkins are known to be a natural cure for peptic ulcers and they also provide relief to your gastrointestinal tract.
8. Beats Depression
When your body is lacking in a nutrient known as tryptophan, you’re more likely to be depressed. Pumpkin is naturally high in this, so if you’re stressed, you know what to eat! Besides that, high tryptophan levels in pumpkin are known to prevent insomnia and promote restful sleep.
9. Prevents Inflammation
Eating pumpkin on a regular basis is known to treat inflammation and prevent conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. If your muscles get inflamed a lot from hard workouts, you can help relieve or de-stress them by eating some cooked pumpkin.
10. Improves Prostate Health
Low levels of zinc and antioxidants are known to contribute to poor prostate health, and poor prostate health equals infertility and poor sexual performance. Pumpkin helps combat this and also prevents the enlargement of your prostate at the same time, giving you just what you want.
11. Protects Your Bone Health
Pumpkin has high levels of Vitamin K, a nutrient known for protecting your bone health. If you’ve been struggling to meet your recommended RDI for this nutrient, eating some cooked pumpkin will get you there.
Other Uses of Pumpkin for Everyday Life
Are you curious to know what you can do with a giant pumpkin? Here are the top uses of pumpkin in your everyday life.
1. Use It As a Pumpkin Planter
You can literally use your pumpkins as planters in which you can grow new plants. It not only looks fantastic, but it will also add a creative touch to your backyard. Simply scoop out the flesh and guts from the inside and fill up 1/3 of it with potting soil. Plant your seeds, set them up in the backyard, and watch new life spring into action. The pumpkin will also act as a natural compost and fertiliser for the plant, which is a win-win.
2. Make Pumpkin Puree
From desserts to pancakes, ice creams, sandwiches and salads, purees have a myriad of uses. If you’re tired of eating canned pumpkin puree, it’s time you make your very own fresh batch. Just cut the pumpkin and scoop out the edible flesh and seeds. Cook the cut pumpkin with a cup of water for 30 minutes until the flesh turns tender. Run this through a food processor, and your delicious puree is ready!
3. Beautify Yourself
You can use pureed pumpkin to make your skin glow or exfoliate it naturally. Just mix pumpkin puree with brown sugar and a bit of milk. Apply this on your skin, let it sit for a while, and rinse. The vitamins A, C, E, and zinc will seep in and naturally cleanse your skin. If you do this skincare regime every day, you’ll have flawless skin!
4. Halloween Treats
Want to make delicious Halloween treats for your kid’s party? Use pumpkin! To make a Halloween dessert, all you need is a vegetable peeler, water, a few spices, and brown sugar.
Start off by cutting up the pumpkin and removing the seeds and guts. Cut it up into bite-sized pieces and let it boil in water in a saucepan. Cover the lid and wait until the flesh softens a bit. Now, add in the spices (we recommend a mix of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and turmeric) with the brown sugar and boil until the sugar becomes a syrup. Remove this mix from the heat and let this mixture sit overnight so that the pumpkin bits have the time to soak it in. You could eat this fresh in the morning – just sprinkle some brown sugar or add some chocolate sauce, and your Halloween treat is ready!
5. Feed Your Pets
If you’ve got any pets in the house, you can feed them unused pumpkin seeds and guts. To them, the leftovers are tasty treats. You can also use the skins to feed wildlife, since birds, deer, and other wild animals love feasting on them -and other parts of the pumpkin too!
6. Make Pumpkin Vodka
If you’re having an adults-only party, you can make pumpkin cocktails for the crowd. Just add a tablespoon of pumpkin puree to two ounces of vanilla or cinnamon vodka. Shake it up well and add some lime juice and honey for a little zest. Add ice cubes and voila! It’s done.
If you have any kids coming to the party, you can make pumpkin puree milkshakes for them. For this, you’ll need a blender. Take two scoops of an ice cream of your choice, half a cup of milk, 3 tbsp of the puree and a teaspoon of ginger or cinnamon. Run this mix through a blender and your milkshake is ready.
7. Use the Shells As Serving Bowls
Don’t throw out those pumpkin shells! You can use them as serving bowls for guests if you’re feeling creative or if it’s Halloween. Not only will they make your dining space a fun spot, but they are also an eco-friendly option.
8. Make Pumpkin Butter
If you’re looking for a delicious spread for your fruit bowls and sandwiches, look no further. You can make pumpkin butter by mixing the puree with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and a few spices like nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Just stir in the ingredients and bring them to a boil. Let them sit for 25 minutes and just stash the mix away in an airtight jar for later use.
How to Incorporate Pumpkin in Your Diet
Want to add some pumpkin to your diet but don’t know how? Here’s what you can do:
1. Make an Oatmeal Bowl out of It
Add pumpkin puree to your oatmeal and top it with spices and crunchy almonds. It makes for a delicious breakfast, we promise.
2. Make Pumpkin Soup
If you’re feeling adventurous and you’re down with the cold, try making some pumpkin soup. It’s a terrific way to boost your immunity and enjoy a tasty treat at the same time. Garnish with ginger and cloves for a strong pick-me-up at the end of the day.
3. Make Pumpkin Ice Cream
Can’t stand the summer heat? Just get some bananas, ice cream, pumpkin puree, and spices. Throw them in a blender with ice cubes, whisk well and serve with chocolate chips for the garnish.
4. Make a Salad
If your salads are lacking in flavour, you can spruce them up by adding in pureed pumpkin. You can throw in some quinoa too for a nutritional boost.
5. Make Pumpkin Juice
You can juice your pumpkins and make fresh smoothies out of them to keep yourself hydrated in the summers.
Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about pumpkins and what we have to say about them.
1. Can I Eat Pumpkin Every Day?
Yes, you can. But don’t eat more than one cup since you don’t want your skin to turn yellow from the high beta-carotene levels.
2. Does Pumpkin Make Me Sleepy?
Yes, because of the tryptophan content in it.
3. Which People Shouldn’t Eat Pumpkin?
People who have allergies or take any medication that can interact with the nutrients in pumpkin, should not be eating it. Consult your doctor for more info on this.
Eating pumpkin can be a great way to boost your health and metabolism. Now that you know of its benefits and uses, it’s time to start enjoying its goodness!