Pumpkins are super versatile and can be used in many recipes, but they’re best known for their appearance on Halloween and Thanksgiving tables everywhere. Did you know that pumpkin nutrition and health benefits also extend to everyday life? A one-cup serving of fresh pumpkin has plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can make your meals healthier than ever before! Read on to learn more about the pumpkin nutrition facts and pumpkin health benefits in detail. Check out these pumpkin recipes:
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
In addition to being a plump, nutritious orange vegetable, pumpkin is also an extremely nutrient-dense food. Its flesh, seeds, leaves, and juices contain vitamins and minerals, and lots of fiber.
One cup (245 grams) of mashed pumpkin provides:
- Calories: 49
- Protein: 1.8 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 2.7 grams
- Vitamin A: 12231IU, or 245 percent of your daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 11.5 mg, or 16 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin E: 2.0 mg, or 10 percent of the daily requirement
- Riboflavin: 0.2 mg, or 11 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin K: 2.0 mcg, or 2 percent of the daily requirement
- Copper: 0.2 mg, or 11 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 1.4 mg, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 22.0 mg, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 564 mg, or 16 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mcg, 5 percent of the daily requirement
- Manganese: 0.2 mg, or 11 percent of the daily requirement
Pumpkin Health Benefits
1. Promotes satiety and weight loss
While not all foods containing fiber necessarily weight loss friendly, pumpkins contain both soluble and insoluble fiber that makes it hard for us to overeat. In fact, as little as one cup of pumpkin puree contains more than 3 grams of dietary fiber, which is nearly a quarter of your daily intake needs.
Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in our stomachs when combined with water; insoluble fiber adds bulk to our stool and promotes regularity. Both types help slow down digestion, making you feel fuller longer. Soluble fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibers may promote weight loss by speeding up metabolism and preventing hunger pangs. Read more here.
2. Improves sleep
Pumpkins are an excellent source of magnesium, which relaxes muscles and reduces stress and anxiety. Several studies have shown that a lack of magnesium can lead to chronic sleeplessness; luckily, several foods high in magnesium can help combat insomnia, including pumpkin seeds.
They’re also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin. Serotonin, on the other hand, is a precursor to melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating your sleep-wake cycle. One study found that eating about 2 ounces of shelled pumpkin seeds (about 1/4 cup) for four weeks increased melatonin levels by an average of 32 percent. So go ahead—enjoy a handful of pumpkin seeds before bedtime!
3. Improves heart health
Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin C, which helps prevent oxidative stress in blood vessels and thereby prevents atherosclerosis and heart disease. They’re also rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to heart health by protecting against stroke and heart disease.
In addition, pumpkin offers a good amount of magnesium, which keeps blood pressure low, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, and can even help relax tight muscles. They are also rich in potassium, which regulates sodium levels in the body. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure and your risk of stroke.
Pumpkins contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, and lutein that may decrease inflammation linked to heart disease.
Finally, the high soluble fiber in pumpkin can help lower cholesterol, another major risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
4. Promotes prostate health
For good reason, pumpkin seeds should be part of every man’s diet. American men are most likely to develop prostate cancer. It is estimated that one in seven men will develop prostate cancer.
Compared to healthy prostates, cancerous prostates contain much less zinc, and several studies suggest that zinc deficiency might contribute to cancer progression. In addition to Zinc, pumpkin is high in potassium, which helps prevent certain types of cancers, including prostate cancer.
5. A good source of magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps your body perform many physiological functions, including producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules), regulating bowel movements, relaxing your nervous system, and regulating muscular growth.
While 80% of Americans have a magnesium deficiency, eating pumpkin seeds can provide provide about 30% of your daily magnesium requirements. Read more here.
6. Boosts brain power
One cup of cooked squash contains more than 300 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A, which is essential for brain function and helps boost learning capacity. It also protects against age-related cognitive decline, as well as eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration.
A study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research revealed that people with low levels of vitamin A experienced memory problems. And a study conducted at Cornell University found that rats fed a diet high in vitamin A performed better on maze tests than those fed a normal diet.
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc, which boosts brainpower by supporting neuron growth and repair—and it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive because it supports fetal development. Zinc has been shown to help improve memory and attention span; reduce anxiety, and improve symptoms of depression.
Plus, pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, which plays an important role in energy production and muscle function. Magnesium deficiency can lead to irritability, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, and cramps.
7. Improves digestion
All those fibers you consume when eating a slice of pumpkin-spiced pie have been known to help with digestion. Pumpkin can make stools softer and easier to pass, which can prevent any instances of constipation.
Pumpkin seeds also contain 50 percent more insoluble fiber than most fruits and vegetables, which makes them a good choice to add bulk to your stool and thus helps it move along more quickly through your digestive tract. The result? A faster transit time for food and waste products and reduced constipation.
And if you’re already suffering from diarrhea, pumpkin might be able to help as well—it contains pectin, a soluble fiber that absorbs water and swells up in your stomach. This helps stools to form, thus alleviating diarrhea.
8. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. Zinc is an important mineral that helps in the regulation of inflammation. Therefore, consuming pumpkin seeds can help reduce inflammation and lower your risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Pumpkin also contains proanthocyanidins, which are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. By suppressing inflammatory reactions in your body, you’ll be able to fight off illnesses more effectively. Additionally, if you suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions like gout and ulcerative colitis, eating pumpkin can help alleviate symptoms by reducing inflammation.
9. Reduces allergies
Did you know that pumpkins can help reduce your allergies? According to a recent study, supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene (all of which are present in pumpkins) reduced asthma symptoms by 50% in those with severe allergic asthma. When it comes to mitigating seasonal allergies, there’s nothing better than a spoonful of pureed pumpkin.
You may also consider eating pumpkin seeds for their antihistamine properties. A 2008 study found that consuming 2 grams of raw or roasted seeds daily for eight weeks helped reduce symptoms by as much as 40%.
10. Promotes weight loss
Pumpkins are one of my favorite foods for promoting weight loss. It’s high in fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps your blood sugar stable, so you won’t be as tempted to snack between meals. Plus, they contain a lot of water (about 90 percent), which means they’ll help fill you up without adding too many calories. One cup of pumpkin contains only about 50 calories.
Pumpkins are also packed with vitamins A and C, which can aid fat metabolism. Adding pumpkins to your diet will also help reduce appetite, so it’s easier to consume fewer calories than you normally would. As an added bonus, pumpkins contain compounds called cucurbitacins, which have been shown to prevent obesity and diabetes.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats and protein, which means they’re perfect for fighting hunger pangs and keeping you full for longer.
11. Promotes eye health
Research suggests that vitamin A in pumpkins can help promote eye health, ward off vision-related diseases, and slow age-related macular degeneration. Plus, vitamin A can aid in preventing cataracts and may protect your eyes from UV damage caused by sunlight or indoor lighting.
Carotenoids—another set of nutrients found in pumpkins—may also reduce your risk for glaucoma. And you’ll find plenty of both nutrients in pumpkin seeds, which are also high in protein and fiber. Enjoying a handful (about 1/4 cup) as a snack every day is an easy way to reap these benefits. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium—which promotes eye health. Studies have even linked increased magnesium intake with lower rates of glaucoma.
According to the National Institutes of Health, one cup of pumpkin will supply you with your daily vitamin A requirements, which are important for the health of your vision, especially in dim light. Read more here.
How to Incorporate Pumpkin into the Diet
Bake with it
There are endless options when it comes to baking with pumpkin. You can use pumpkin in muffins, cupcakes, or loaves of bread. A fall favorite that is perfect for sharing with friends and family is pumpkin pie! It’s easy to make, and you can try out a new recipe each year. Plus, it’s delicious!
Use pumpkin in a smoothie
When you’re looking for ways to incorporate more pumpkins into your diet, don’t just look at desserts. Pumpkin makes a great addition to smoothies as well. They are loaded with beta-carotene and high in fiber, both of which are very good for you. Into your blender, add pumpkin puree, frozen banana, and almond milk or coconut milk. This will make a rich and filling smoothie that’s not overly sweet.
Pumpkin soups are a great way to get vitamin A, C, and K into your diet without adding many calories. Just make sure you’re using homemade pumpkin puree, as some canned varieties can be high in added sugar. Puree it with your favorite spices (turmeric, cumin, and coriander all go well with squash) and add it to a light broth or vegetable stock for a healthy and low-calorie soup.
Include in stir-fries
Stir-frying is an easy way to add veggies (or anything, really) into your diet. Whether it’s with seasonings, a splash of sesame oil, or simply some garlic and ginger, pumpkins will give your stir-fries a new twist.
This is a quick and simple way to enjoy pumpkin. Cut your pumpkin in half, remove any seeds, and then drizzle some olive oil over it before putting it in an oven preheated to 400°F (200°C). Place your pumpkin cut-side down on a baking tray, cover with foil and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until soft.
You can also roast chopped pumpkin as part of a delicious risotto dish, alongside other root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or celeriac.
Check out more of these delicious pumpkin recipes:
Pumpkins are delicious vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, and dietary fiber, with no fat or cholesterol. One cup of pumpkin contains over 100% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A (beta-carotene), which plays an important role in vision, cell growth, reproduction, and immune function.
They also contain significant amounts of other vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin C. With each serving also providing almost 4 grams of dietary fiber, pumpkins promote digestive health.
Pumpkins are so versatile that you can add them to your diet in almost any way you can imagine, from eating them roasted to baking them. Whichever way you choose to eat your pumpkin, be sure that you’ll still reap the benefits.
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