Continuing with the spirit of Halloween that has been present in the blog all week, I decided that today would a perfect day to tell you all about the wonderful health benefits that can be found in both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds!
Did you know that everyone’s favorite squash is not only delicious, but also loaded with nutrients? Check it out!
In 100 grams of pumpkin:
- 26 calories
- 1 gram protein
- 0.5 grams fiber
- 246% vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene)
- 4% folate
- 4% niacin
- 6% pantothenic acid
- 5% vitamin B6
- 8.5% vitamin B2
- 4% vitamin B1
- 15% vitamin C
- 7% vitamin E
- 10% iron
- 14% copper
- 7% potassium
Pretty stacked, huh?
Beta-carotene is a pretty awesome vitamin (technically, a pro-vitamin, since it becomes vitamin A in the body). When I learned about vitamins in college, I remember vitamin A sticking out to me because of how incredibly important it is for eye health. It broke my heart to learn that many children in third world countries experience vision loss from a young age because of vitamin A deficiency. This could easily be prevented if they had regular access to bright orange vegetables, like pumpkin.
Beta-carotene is also important for maintaining the skin and mucus membranes. Eating plenty of pumpkins can help slow the aging process, keeping your skin smoother, longer!
Also a great antioxidant, beta-carotene is known to help prevent the formation of certain types of cancer!
Vitamin A can also be found in some animal products in the form of retinol. However, consuming the vitamin in this form poses a risk of toxicity, if you ingest too much, and will eventually cause renal failure! Crazy, huh?
The beta-carotene form does not share this risk and can be eaten liberally. The only real risk posed by too much beta-carotene is the possibility of your skin turning orange! Yes, I’m serious! This may be strange, but it’s completely harmless. I’ve actually read that surveys have shown that people tend to find the orange tint from beta-carotene to be more attractive than a suntan! Sounds like a great reason to get out of the tanning bed and into a can of pumpkin, to me!
The flesh isn’t the only part of the pumpkin with great health benefits. The seeds are nutrition powerhouses, as well!
In 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds:
- 186 calories
- 52% manganese
- 46% magnesium
- 41% phosphorus
- 28.7% iron
- 17% zinc
- 8 grams protein
A great addition to any diet, pumpkin seeds are especially beneficial for vegans and vegetarians because of the high levels of iron, zinc, and protein, which are often lacking in plant-based diets! Iron is an incredibly important component of your red blood cells and carries oxygen throughout the body. Zinc is necessary for healthy immune function, which is why it is included in so many cold lozenges. As a vegan, I know I’m always looking for ways to throw a little extra protein in my diet. Afterall, proteins are the building blocks for everything in your body!
Pumpkin seeds have also been shown to benefit prostate health in men, by preventing the enlargement that often occurs with aging.
These little seeds are also quite anti-inflammatory and have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
Another benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they can help lower cholesterol levels, because of the high levels of phytosterols. Pretty awesome!
I hope I’ve given you new inspiration to include pumpkin in your diet this season!