6 science-backed benefits of eating pumpkins to improve your eye, skin, and heart health
- Eating pumpkins may benefit your eyesight, help you lose weight, improve heart
health, boost your immune system, protect your skin, and even lower the risk of some cancers.
- Pumpkins contain high amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and Vitamin A, which are crucial for your health.
- To gain these health benefits, you can cook or bake with fresh pumpkin, or snack on
Pumpkins are much more than just the unofficial flavor of fall. This autumn favorite has various health benefits and can be eaten all year. Pumpkins are low in calories and high in nutrients such as vitamin A and antioxidants, making them a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet.Here are six benefits of eating pumpkins.
1. Pumpkins can help with eyesightBeta-carotene is responsible for the bright orange color of pumpkins. This pigment is a carotenoid that is converted into vitamin A by the body. Beta-carotene and vitamin A are essential for sustaining good eyesight, says Laura Bishop-Simo, RD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
2. Pumpkins may promote weight loss
Pumpkins are a healthy food choice if you're looking to lose weight. Bishop-Simo says pumpkins are a good source of fiber, which can help keep you fuller for longer, and may lead to less frequent snacking.Plus, at around 100 calories in a cup, Bishop-Simo says you will get a decent volume of food for a small number of calories, making it a good option for cutting calories while still getting a variety of nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are also a great nutrient-dense snack for weight loss. They have fiber, protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients. Protein is beneficial for staying full longer since it can regulate hunger hormones, and fat is broken down slowly, Bishop-Simo says. These factors contribute to your stomach feeling fuller for longer.
3. Pumpkins can benefit heart health
Pumpkins are rich in potassium, which is a nutrient that can help regulate blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, Bishop-Simo says. One cup of pumpkin contains 490 milligrams of potassium, which is about 16% of the recommended daily value.
A 2016 meta-analysis of 16 studies found that stroke risk decreases with an increase of potassium consumption. Additionally, a 2018 paper stated that a high intake of potassium can lower elevated blood pressure, reducing your risk of heart disease.
4. Pumpkins may help protect your skinBeta-carotene and vitamin A are beneficial to skin health. The beta-carotene in pumpkins may prevent the effects of aging and boost skin's defenses against UV sunlight, says Bishop-Simo.
This is due to beta-carotene's antioxidant properties. According to a 2012 review, eating foods with beta-carotene may have a protective effect on skin cells against damage from UV radiation. A 2008 meta-analysis showed that beta-carotene may also protect against sunburn.
5. Pumpkins may lower the risk of cancer
Pumpkins, including pumpkin seeds, are rich in antioxidants, says Bishop-Simo. These antioxidants can help prevent damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals may be caused by normal cell cycling, environmental pollutants, or UV radiation. These unstable molecules can cause oxidative stress, which can damage healthy cells' DNA.Antioxidants like beta-carotene help to combat this damage. Chronic oxidative stress is a risk factor for cancer, so it's important to consume antioxidants to lower your risk.
- A 2016 review found that carotenoids like beta-carotene may lower pancreatic cancer risk.
- A 2016 meta-analysis suggested that carotenoids may lower gastric cancer risk.
- A 2012 meta-analysis found that carotenoids may lower breast cancer risk.
6. Pumpkins may boost your immune system
Pumpkins contain various nutrients that help boost the immune system. Bishop-Simo says these include:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Pumpkins are a delicious way to add much-needed nutrients into your diet. To get the most benefit from pumpkins, you can cook or bake with fresh pumpkin puree or canned puree that's 100% pumpkin.Overall, to achieve a healthy diet filled with vitamins and minerals, you should be sure to eat a variety of colorful foods — and pumpkins are a fantastic starting point.
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