Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the distinctive taste of pumpkin.  The bright orange flesh of this fruit, as well as the seeds, are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  Pumpkins are good for more than pies and jack-o-lanterns.   They add a delicious flavor to many dishes as well as nutritional boost.  Pumpkin is not only a good source of fiber, but a low-fat, low-calorie addition to your meals.

Pumpkin a fruit?  Yes, you read that correctly. According to Wikipedia, pumpkin belongs to the fruit family.

Nutritional Benefits of pumpkin:

Vitamins C and E

Excellent source of fiber

Alpha-carotene

Beta-carotene

Potassium

Magnesium

The beautiful bright orange color that is characteristic of pumpkin indicates that it is an excellent source of the antioxidant, beta-carotene.

People who consume a diet rich in beta-carotene are less apt to develop certain cancers than those whose diets are lacking beta-carotene rich foods .  Pumpkin also contains another bonus carotenoid,  beta-crytoxanthin, which also aids in cancer protection.  Alpha-carotene  is also found in pumpkin and like beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant.  Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are considered pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which means the body converts them to vitamin A.  Not only does vitamin A promote healthy vision, but it does wonders for the immune system.  The beta-carotene is also believed to help reverse skin damage caused by the sun as well as act an an anti-inflammatory.  Alpha carotene is believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts as well as prevent tumor growth.  Carotenoids are true immunity boosters and can help lessen the risk of heart disease.

Pumpkin is considered an outstanding source of fiber.  A one-half cup serving provides 5 grams of fiber.  Fiber is considered a healthy part of  any diet and an excellent help in weight management.  Not only does fiber help reduce cholesterol, but it helps maintain blood sugar levels and helps protect the body against heart disease.  Fiber is an essential part of healthy digestion.

Most people know the importance of vitamin C in the diet.  Pumpkin is a great source of this immunity boosting vitamin that also reduces the risk of blood pressure and heart disease.  Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E, which protects the skin form sun damage as well as protect against the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Potassium is necessary for balancing the body’s fluid levels, promote healthy bones and in keeping your blood pressure under control.  Pumpkin is a good source for not only potassium, but magnesium as well.  Magnesium also assists in bone strength and helps promote a healthy immune system as well as many other essential functions.

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

Pratt, S. (2004) SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life.  New York: Harper Collins

 

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