Pumpkins are grown all over the world for numerous reasons ranging from agricultural purposes to commercial and ornamental sales. Of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and China. Pumpkins form part of the squash plant family. It has a round and smooth skin that ranges from yellow to orange in colour.
Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin beer… the options are endless and endlessly mouthwatering. Not only is pumpkin versatile enough to fit into all the above and more, it also packs some powerful healthy perks… like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check, as long as you take it easy on the pie, that is.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite health benefits of pumpkin. Let us know what else you love about pumpkins in the comments!
- Improved Vision: Pumpkin’s brilliant orange colouring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.
Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.
- Younger-looking skin: Sure, eating pumpkin can help you look younger (beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect us from the sun’s wrinkle-causing UV rays), but the pulp also makes a great, all-natural face mask that exfoliates and soothes. All you need is 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie), an egg, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of milk. Mix, then apply it, wait for 20 minutes or so and wash it off with warm water.
- High in Potassium: Bananas have made themselves popular for their potassium benefits. But did you know that a cup of cooked pumpkin has 564mg compared to bananas 422mg? Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and inactive reflexes, so switch it up and rotate some pumpkin into your diet instead of solely relying on bananas for potassium.
- Boost Immune System: Well, maybe. Whether or not vitamin C can really ward off colds is still up for debate, but pumpkins are a solid source of the essential nutrient. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily. (Men should aim for around 75 milligrams.)
- Lower cancer risk: Beta-carotene is great for your eyes and skin, but you know what else it’s good for? Fighting cancer. Research shows people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.
Vitamins A and C are “a kind of cell defence squad,” Kaufman says. “[They] are both antioxidants, and they act as shields for your cells against cancer-causing free radicals.”
Water g 91.6
Energy kcal 26
Protein g 1
Total lipid (fat) g 0.1
Carbohydrate, by difference g 6.5
Fibre, total dietary g 0.5
Sugars, total g 2.76
Calcium, Ca mg 21
Iron, Fe mg 0.8
Magnesium, Mg mg 12
Phosphorus, P mg 44
Potassium, K mg 340
Sodium, Na mg 1
Zinc, Zn mg 0.32
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 9
Thiamin mg 0.05
Riboflavin mg 0.11
Niacin mg 0.6
Vitamin B-6 mg 0.061
Folate, DFE µg 16
Vitamin B-12 µg 0
Vitamin A, RAE µg 426
Vitamin A, IU IU 8513
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) mg 1.06
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) µg 0
Vitamin D IU 0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) µg 1.1
Fatty acids, total saturated g 0.052
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 0.013
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 0.005
Fatty acids, total trans g 0
Cholesterol mg 0
Caffeine mg 0