The holidays are fast approaching and Americans will be consuming more pumpkin products than any other time of the year. Over 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten each year in the United States alone. You may think that this equals a lot of fat and empty calories but in fact, pumpkins are quite healthy, packed with a lot of vitamins and antioxidants.
Only one cup of pumpkin provides a day’s worth of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Beta carotene is important for maintaining eye health. Beta carotene also helps prevent strokes and heart attacks. It also regulates blood sugars and recently beta carotene is believed to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.
Pumpkin is also loaded with vitamins like vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system, vitamin E, and vitamin B. It also is high in minerals like manganese, and copper. These vitamins and minerals work together to make pumpkins into a type of superfood or rather a food that is packed with tons of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are necessary for a body to ward off many types of diseases and infections.
Folate is found most often in green leafy vegetables, but pumpkins are also high in folate. Folate is necessary for new cell division. This is important to maintain brain health, guard against anemia and by getting folate naturally through vegetables and pumpkins or by taking a folic acid supplement, it may protect against some types of cancers. Folate will help pregnant women protect fetuses against developing birth defects.
Pumpkins are also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s help to maintain good brain function and they are also good for maintaining nice skin and healthy eyes. The phytonutrients found in pumpkins protect against damage caused by UVA and UVB rays. This helps to protect against such diseases as melanoma and other skin cancers.
Fiber is necessary for colon health and pumpkin has plenty of fiber. Fiber helps to keep an intestinal tract working properly and efficiently, which helps to rid the body of toxins and waste. So in a way; pumpkin helps to detoxify the body.
It’s not just the pulp that is nutritious. Pumpkin seeds are also high in nutrients too. Pumpkins seeds like other nuts are high in fatty acids, zinc, copper, vitamin K and proteins.
Eating pumpkins to stay healthy is nothing new. Pumpkin has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine. Years ago it was believed that pumpkins could be used to cure freckles and it was also used as a home remedy for minor snakebites. While we know today that eating pumpkin will not make freckles disappear, we do know that pumpkins are a healthy, delicious, nutrient packed, alternative to high calorie, high fat snacks that we too often enjoy.