Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and it is a type of Winter Squash, although it can be eaten all year round. They are usually round and vibrant orange in colour, with a slightly ribbed, tough and smooth outer skin. Sadly, due to media advertising, pumpkins are normally popular only around Thanksgiving and Halloween.
Whilst commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkins are scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. That said, it is nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruits.
When cooked, the whole pumpkin including the seeds, pulp and skin are edible. It is a great source of potassium and beta-carotene, which is a carotenoid that converts to vitamin A. It also contains some minerals including calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamins C, E and some B vitamins. All these play an important role in the health of our skin.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy skin. Your body needs this vitamin to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. Vitamin C is not naturally made by the body. It is therefore important that we obtain these from our meals and also from top quality supplements daily.
Vitamin C plays a part in collagen formation, helps to prevent bruising and helps with wound healing. We highly recommend it especially during Autumn and Winter months where most people are more prone to getting colds and flu and especially during this time when we are concerned about viruses. We also recommend it in higher doses before, during and after any operations, however minor. We personally ensure we consume sufficient of amounts of Vitamin C daily to ensure we are illness-free all year round.
Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant and acts together with vitamin C, helping to protect against sun damage and prevent dryness of the skin. Vitamin A, or beta-carotene, is also involved in skin protection from the sun’s UV rays.
A deficiency of Vitamin A has been linked with reduced vision or even blindness. Beta-carotene, as well as vitamins C and E, can help protect eyes and reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases. Vitamin A plays an important role in supporting the immune system, of which around 80% is in the digestive system Including vitamin A, has a direct effect on immune system function.
Metabolic Syndrome is the medical name for a combination of Diabetes, Obesity and High Blood Pressure which collectively then increases your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Foods high in carotenoids, which are pigments found in fruit and vegetables that give them their orange, yellow and green colours, may help prevent the development of metabolic syndrome.
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains
- Calories: 49
- Carbs : 12 grams
- Copper : 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fibre : 3 grams
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Manganese : 11% of the RDI
- Potassium : 16% of the RDI
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Pumpkins also contain small amounts of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Zinc. It is relatively low in calories and contains 94% water. It is therefore known as a nutrient-dense food. This means it is incredibly low in calories despite being packed with nutrients. Pumpkin clocks in at under 50 calories per cup (245 grams). It is therefore a weight-loss friendly food because you can consume more of it than other carbohydrate sources such as rice and potatoes yet still take in fewer calories.
Pumpkin seeds are edible, nutritious and linked to numerous health benefits. These are normally consumed dried and readily available from health food stores and other supermarkets and shops.
Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria. However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.
It is very common for eyesight to diminish with age. However, eating the right nutrients can lower your risk of sight loss and sight deterioration. Pumpkin is plentiful in nutrients that have been linked to strong eyesight as your body ages.
Pumpkin is also one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds linked to lower risks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
Pumpkin is also a good source of fibre, which can help curb your appetite as well as ensure you have comfortable bowel movements daily. If you are consuming at least two main meals daily, you ideally should have two bowel movements daily. Having less than this will result in build up of faecal plaque and toxins in your body. This build up over days, weeks, months and years result in various dis-eases and illnesses which can easily be avoided. It is similar to flushing your toilet every time you use it, rather than just flushing it after several uses.
Cancer is a serious illness in which cells grow abnormally. Cancer cells produce free radicals to help them multiply rapidly. Pumpkin is high in carotenoids, which are compounds that can function as antioxidants. This allows them to neutralize free radicals, which may protect against certain cancers.
Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your heart health. It is high in Potassium, Vitamin C and fibre, which have been linked to heart benefits. Studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes, the two risk factors for heart disease. Heart disease is very common even amongst younger people and consuming pumpkin regularly can help avoid this.
Pumpkin is also high in antioxidants, which may protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. When LDL cholesterol particles oxidize, they can clump along the walls of blood vessels, which can restrict your vessels and raise your risk of heart disease.
Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients that are great for your skin. It is high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. One cup (245 grams) of cooked pumpkin packs 245% of the RDI for vitamin A.
Once ingested, carotenoids are transported to various organs including your skin. Here, they help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays. Many people during a certain time of the year carve pumpkins as decorations. This is certainly a waste of great food if you do not consume the contents whilst following this tradition.
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