Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food. It is rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices all pack a powerful nutritional punch.
There are many ways pumpkin can be incorporated into desserts, soups, salads, preserves, and even as a substitute for butter.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It will explore the health benefits and nutritional content of pumpkins, as well as ways to include more in the diet.
Pumpkins have a range of proven health benefits.
Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.
Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration.
Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods such as pumpkin decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help prevent diabetes and heart disease, and promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and a healthful body mass index (BMI).
Pumpkins are also a powerful source of fiber.
They have demonstrated the following health benefits.
Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.
Studies suggest that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt.
Beta-carotene has also been shown to hold back the development of colon cancer in some of the Japanese population.
The authors of the study concluded:
“We found a statistically significant inverse association between higher plasma lycopene [a type of beta-carotene] concentrations and lower risk of prostate cancer, which was restricted to older participants and those without a family history of prostate cancer.”
Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage.
A cross-sectional study of older African-American women showed that eating 3 or more fruit servings per day was associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. It also led to slower progression of the disease.
Pumpkin helps to control diabetes.
The plant compounds in pumpkin seeds and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose.
They may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but this effect is not consistently demonstrated. However, the compounds have such an impact that researchers suggest that they could be reworked into an anti-diabetic medication, though further studies are needed.
Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber. People in the United States (U.S.) do not consume enough fiber, with an average daily intake of just 15 g. The recommended daily fiber intake of is between 25 and 30 g.
With nearly 3 grams (g) of fiber in cooked, fresh pumpkin and over 7 g in canned pumpkin, adding a serving of pumpkin to the daily diet can help supplement the fiber shortage in the average American diet.
Use our upcoming pumpkin recipes from our Tasty Tuesday’s to use all of the pumpkin and gain all of the benefits!
View all of our recipes on our blog!
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