Pumpkin is a cultivar of a squash plant, most commonly of Cucurbita pepo, that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species, including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also sometimes called “pumpkin”.
Nutritional value of Pumpkin
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||109 kJ (26 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||0.5 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
- Improved Eyesight – One cooked cup of mashed pumpkin contains over 200% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, which sharpens the vision, especially in dim light, as per National Institutes of Health. Pumpkins are also packed with carotenoids, the elements that give their bright orange color, as well as beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into a kind of vitamin A.
- Regulates Blood Pressure – Pumpkins have ample amounts of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, all of which are known to support cardiovascular health. Consuming the right amounts of potassium is just as essential as minimizing your sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension. Increased intake of potassium can also reduce the risk of stroke, preservation of bone mineral density, protection against loss of muscle mass, and a decrease in the formation of kidney stones. A Harvard study involving over 40,000 male health experts concluded that those who consumed a diet in rich fiber had a 40% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, as compared to those who relied on a diet low in fiber. Another study carried out by Swedish researchers showed that women who consumed a fiber-rich diet had a 25% lower risk of developing a cardiovascular disease as compared to those women how ate a low fiber diet.
- Helps Weight Loss – If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you might want to add pumpkin to your diet. It has a good amount of fiber, boasting of 1.7 g in a cup of pumpkin seeds, 3 g in mashed pumpkin, and 7 g in canned pumpkin. Fiber is just what your digestion needs to make things a lot smoother and a heavy dose of fiber every day can help with weight loss. Blend together: 1 cup pumpkin puree 1 frozen banana 1 tsp cinnamon powder 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla if you prefer) ice cubes (optional)Also, eating pumpkin makes you feel full for hours. The fruit has an impressive 91% water content to keep you hydrated and it’s low in calories as well as all tick marks for weight loss. Have a pumpkin smoothie after a workout. It can replenish the potassium you lost during your workout session without piling on the calories.
- Boosts Immunity – Getting sick often? Struggling to recover from a nasty cold? You need pumpkin in your diet. From fighting against infections to keeping your bones strong, vitamin A has a truckload of responsibilities. And this particular vitamin is extremely high in pumpkin. Vitamin C is another essential part of raising your immunity. One study found out vitamin C can help reduce the severity of a cold.4 Pumpkins are a rich source of vitamin C. In fact, one cup of canned pumpkin can give 20% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Pumpkins are also great sources of folic acid, manganese, and riboflavin – all essential for a healthy immune system. Are you grabbing that pumpkin, already? Try pumpkin soups for an easy (and yummy) way to get all those nutrients in your body.
- Improves Eye Health – Did you know eating a cup of canned and cooked pumpkin can give you 200% of your daily vitamin A? This particular vitamin is important for sharper vision, better performance under dim lights, and to keep your eyes in good health. Also, the chemical components of pumpkins reduce the risk of cataracts and development of other optical issues.
- Maintains Heart Health – Pumpkins are great for the heart thanks to their fiber, vitamins, and potassium. When you eat a diet rich in fiber, it helps to protect the heart from ailments. Also, a good intake of potassium is proven to reduce the risk of stroke. Magnesium is another reason why you need to eat pumpkin. It’s a vital mineral for your heart. Even a slight deficiency can create changes to the heart. It’s important for the pumping of your heart, for healthy blood vessels, and to reduce the risk of heart attacks. And all you need is just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds to meet half the magnesium requirement for a day. Pumpkin seeds were also found to lower LDL aka “bad” cholesterol.
- Reduces Cancer Risk – A pigment known as beta-carotene is the reason why pumpkins get their deep orange color. But this particular pigment is not just known for its color. When consumed, beta-carotene turns into vitamin A in our system. Also, several studies claim diets rich in beta-carotene and zinc reduces the risk of cancer, especially prostate and lung cancer. By adding pumpkin (rich in both beta-carotene and zinc) into your diet, it should help lower the risk of cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Another study found out beta-carotene also reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- Prevents Skin Aging – Pumpkins can work wonders for the skin as well. They help delay signs of aging (thank you, beta-carotene), increase collagen production, and brighten the skin. Because of its strong vitamin A and C presence, it allows the skin to remain soft and smooth.
- Boosts Mood – If the thought of eating a yummy pumpkin pie puts you in a good mood, here’s news for you. Eating pumpkin works wonders for your mood. Pumpkin seeds have a high amount of tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is the building block of a mood-lifting neurotransmitter named serotonin. Research has revealed that deficiency in serotonin can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Improves Sleep Quality – Since pumpkins are rich in tryptophan, they could also act as sleep stimulants. Tryptophan produces serotonin and this, in turn, relaxes and calms you, so you eventually fall asleep. A few experts even claim this could be the reason why people tend to sleep after a heavy Thanksgiving feast.
- Reduces Inflammation – Pumpkins have been found to decrease inflammation. One study revealed that pumpkin seed oil could provide relief from arthritis and reduce other inflammatory effects. It was also noted that pumpkin seed oil functioned like arthritis medication.
- Reduces Risk of Bladder Stones – One study found out munching on pumpkin seeds helped reduce the risk of bladder stones. It also helped decrease bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance, and reduce urethral pressure.
- Improves Women’s Health After Menopause – Menopausal women can heave a sigh of relief. A recent study revealed pumpkin seed oil reduced postmenopausal signs. This includes headaches, hot flashes, and joint pains. Pumpkins are pretty versatile. You could make smoothies, desserts, energy bars, curries, and a lot more. Just experiment and happy munching!
- Improves Men’s Sexual Health – Pumpkins, and especially their seeds, are packed with beta-carotene and other antioxidants that have cancer protective properties. Taiwanese researchers found out that pumpkin seed oil blocked harmful prostrate growth in male rats. ¼ cup of the seeds packs around 2.75 mg of zinc, which can contribute to male sexual health. According to a Wayne State University study, young men who didn’t get enough zinc intake had substantially lower testosterone levels after 20 weeks.
- Better Sleep – Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is responsible for post-Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness. Tryptophan also contributes to helping the body produce serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that assists you in relaxing and winding down. In addition to promoting better sleep, the serotonin will enhance your mood.
- Help Reduced Risk of Cancer – Research carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition shows a positive relationship between a beta-carotene- rich diet and a reduction in the risk of developing a prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has an inverse relation with the development of colon cancer in Japanese people. Furthermore, the plant sterols present in pumpkin seeds can help combat certain types of cancers.
- Better Immunity – Looking for a way to fight illnesses and improve your overall immune system? Then you should try pumpkin. Pumpkins are rich in both beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which offer an immunity boost due to their powerful combination of nutrients and combination. They help your body viruses, infectious diseases, and infections. Pumpkin oil can help you fight numerous fungal and bacterial infections. Moreover, pumpkin contains 20% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C, which may assist you in recovering from colds faster. One cup of cooked pumpkin comprises of over 11 milligrams of vitamin C, which is around 20% of the IOM recommended daily intake for women (men are advised to aim for 75 mg)
- May Help Treat Diabetes – In scientific tests, pumpkins were shown to lower blood glucose levels, thus improving glucose tolerance and increasing the amount of insulin produced by the body. More research is needed before we can say how exactly will pumpkins will be beneficial for people with diabetes, but if you have diabetes, eating pumpkin certainly will not hurt.
- Youthful Skin – Beta-carotene present in pumpkin not only helps us protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but the pulp also makes a wonderful, all-natural face mask that not only soothes but also exfoliates. The fruit enzymes, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C, and alpha hydroxyl acids increase cell turnover, soften the skin, and help control oil production and hormone level. All you need is a quarter of pureed pumpkin, a tbsp of honey, a tbsp of milk, an egg. Combine all the items and apply on your face, wait for about 30 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water.