Pumpkins are one of the most grown vegetables. They are well-known of all the winter squashes and are most related with Halloween lights. They are a particularly great source of fiber, along with many vitamins and minerals.
Health Benefits of Pumpkins
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant known to give orange fruits and vegetables their vibrant color and that is converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Eating foods rich in beta-carotene can offer protection against heart disease and asthma, reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, and delay body degeneration and aging.1 Here are some of the most impressive pumpkin health benefits:
- Reduce High Blood Pressure
Consuming pumpkin is great for your heart! The potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C content in this vegetable all support cardiovascular health. Adequate potassium intake is almost as significant as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Some other foods that are high in potassium include spinach, bananas, tomatoes, oranges, pineapple, and cantaloupe. Increased potassium consumptions are also associated with a protection against loss of muscle mass, reduced risk of stroke, reduction in the formation of kidney stones, and preservation of bone mineral density.
- Boost Immunity
Pumpkin and other plant foods high in both beta-carotene and Vitamin C offer an immunity boost from their potent combination of nutrients.
- Prevent Cancer
According to a research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, one specific type of cancer where studied has shown positive effects of a diet rich in beta-carotene is prostate cancer 2 . Beta-carotene has also been proven to have a reverse association with the development of colon cancer in the people in Japan.
- Improve Eye Health
The antioxidants beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C (all of which pumpkin has) have been proven to prevent degenerative damage and support eye health 3 .
A higher consumption of all fruits (3 or more portions per day) has also been proven to reduce the risk of and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
- Promote Fertility
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications, consuming more iron from plant sources such as beets, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkin, and beans appear to promote fertility 4 . The great content of Vitamin A in pumpkin is also important during pregnancy and lactation for the synthesis of the hormone.
Pumpkin Nutrition Information
According to the USDA National Nutrient database 5 , 1 cup of pumpkin, cooked, drained and unsalted contains about:
- 49 calories
- 76 grams’ protein
- 17 grams’ fat
- 0 grams’ cholesterol
- 12 grams’ carbohydrate (including 5.1 grams of sugar and 2.7 grams of fiber)
Eating 1 cup of cooked, canned pumpkin could provide well over 100 percent of your daily requirements for Vitamin A, 20 percent of the daily value for Vitamin C, 10 percent or more for Vitamin E, potassium, riboflavin, manganese, and copper at least 5 percent of B6, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, iron, folate, and magnesium.
Indubitably, using fresh pumpkin and cooking it yourself will provide you the most health benefits, though, canned pumpkin is also a perfect choice. Remember – canned pumpkin should contain just one ingredient: pumpkin.
How to select pumpkin?
Look for a mature pumpkin that is heavy in hand and features a fine woody note on tapping and stout stem. Avoid the one with cuts, bruises, and wrinkled surface.
How to store pumpkin?
Ripe, mature pumpkins can be stored for many weeks to come under cool place at room temperature. But cut sections need to be placed inside the fridge where it will keep well for a few days.
As pumpkin has very tough skin, some hard graft is required to get into them. Place the squash on a thick tea towel in order to keep it steady. Next, use a large strong knife to cut it in half. It could be heavy going, thus, work in sections till you reach the bottom. In case the skin is very thick, you might need to hammer the knife in with some rolling pin.
And once one side is cut, just turn the pumpkin around and cut it down on the other side, till it is split in two. Remove the seeds and the stringy parts. If the pumpkin is really big, you can cut it into smaller pieces then, with a small knife, remove its skin (well, unless you want to roast it, in which case the surface may stay on). Then cut into wedges or chunks as required.
Pumpkins are one of the greatest sources of Vitamin A. They are also rich sources of minerals like calcium, copper, phosphorus, and potassium. Pumpkin, especially pumpkin seeds are an incredible source of fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids that are great for heart health. Halloween pumpkins are especially popular for decorations and different recipes.