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Kelsey-Seybold provider Dr. Hansen
pumpkin in hand

What’s Not To Love About Pumpkin, a Nutritional Powerhouse

November 22, 2023

From pumpkin-spiced coffees to pumpkin pies and pastries, pumpkin is all the rage. While pumpkins are indeed delicious, there’s much more to them than meets the eye (or tastebuds).

Brimming With Essential Nutrients

Pumpkin is a popular winter squash in the same family as cucumbers and melons. Technically, you could call it a fruit because it contains seeds, but because of its vast nutritional value, it acts more like a vegetable. Did you know that a pumpkin’s seeds, leaves, and flesh are all edible?Chock-full of essential nutrients, pumpkin is considered a superfood for good reasons. It contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and carotenoids.

Friendly to Your Waistline

Low in sugar and high in fiber, pumpkin is an excellent choice if you are looking to shed a few pounds or maintain your weight. The fiber content helps you feel full and satisfied, so you aren't tempted to overeat. It's also relatively low in calories and fat.

Good for Your Eyes

One of the most well-known benefits of pumpkin is its ability to support eye health and help reduce the risk of vision-related issues. It's full of beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid your body needs to convert into Vitamin A, which is critical for maintaining good vision, especially in low-light conditions. One cup of pumpkin provides 200% of your recommended daily vitamin A intake!

one cup of pumpkin

Kind to Your Heart

The rich orange color of pumpkins isn't just pretty; it's an indication that it's full of potassium, which can help keep blood pressure in check, making it a heart-friendly food. The antioxidants and vitamins in pumpkin, especially vitamins C and E, also contribute to heart health by reducing inflammation and protecting cells that line your blood vessels. Additionally, the fiber in pumpkin may help lower cholesterol by binding it to your food and preventing absorption.

Supports Your Immune System

Pumpkin can help shore up your immune system, protecting you from infections and getting sick, because it contains healthy amounts of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A plays a role in developing immune cells while vitamin C helps support them.

Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, a trace element that plays a pivotal role in the development and function of immune cells. For this reason, snacking on pumpkin seeds during cold and flu season may give your immune system a much-needed boost.

Even More Benefits

Aside from being friendly to your waistline, kind to your heart, good for your eyes, and supporting your immune system, eating pumpkin can contribute to healthy skin, promote good sleep, and reduce the risk of some types of cancers.

The beta-carotene in pumpkins may protect your skin from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. It may also improve the overall appearance and texture of your skin. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps make a serotine chemical that promotes sound sleep. Finally, pumpkin's vitamin A may help lower the risk of certain cancers, like lung and prostate cancer.

Smart Ways To Consume Pumpkin

Considering the health benefits of pumpkin, you may think indulging in that pumpkin-flavored latte or pumpkin muffin is OK. These pumpkin treats, while tasty, usually contain extra sugar and refined carbohydrates. More often than not, they are made using pie spice instead of the real thing.

pumpkin baked slices

The best way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of pumpkin is through consuming:

  • Roasted pumpkins
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Pumpkin hummus
  • Pumpkin soup

The next time you’re at the grocery shop, consider picking up a can of pumpkin or two. With its ability to impart many benefits, from supporting eye health to promoting a robust immune system, pumpkin's rich nutrient profile is an excellent addition to your diet all year.

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