Have you seen a pumpkin before? Have you eaten it before?
Pumpkin is one plant that becomes popular whenever it is time to celebrate Thanksgiving or Halloween.
Sadly, the only thing people know about pumpkin is that it is used for these celebrations.
But there are other things that you should know about this wonderful plant.
Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and it is native to North America.
Its skin is orange in colour while the pulp inside is yellow. It is largely considered a vegetable even though it is a fruit.
The consideration of this squash as a vegetable is because, nutritionally, it is more similar to vegetables than fruits.
It is a delicious food to add to your diet and we will fill you in a little on how to use it.
The pulp in pumpkin could be prepared as porridge (with salt, tomatoes, pepper, oil and other ingredients added) and eaten with yam or eaten after it is boiled.
However, pumpkin goes beyond just being delicious to providing you body many health benefits.
Different studies have identified the health benefits of this fruit and here are few of them.
1. Rich In Vitamin A
Pumpkin has an impressive nutritional value.
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains the under listed nutrients, as provided by Nutrition Data.
- Calories: 49
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper: 11% of the RDI
- Manganese: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.
2. Could Aid Weight Loss
Here is something good for persons that are trying hard to lose weight.
It has been said that the best way to address weight loss is through diet.
Interestingly, apart from having the nutrients and minerals identified above, pumpkin is also low in calories. It contains 94% water.
Pumpkin is also very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A.
One thing you should know is that it is not only the pulp that is edible. The seeds are too.
They are very nutritious and have different health benefits, as they are considered a food rich in nutrients and high in fibre.
3. May Reduce Risk Of Chronic Diseases
Pumpkin is high in antioxidants and adding it to your diet will help you detoxify your system of free radicals.
These are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process.
Though highly unstable, they play a useful roles in destroying harmful bacteria.
However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress.
This kind of stress has been likened to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
The seeds of pumpkin contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin.
They help in neutralising free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.
4. Boosts Immune System
Everyone needs their immune system to be able to stay healthy. A breakdown of it exposes the individual to different forms of ailment.
That immune system boost that you need could be gotten from pumpkin. It is loaded with beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.
A 2018 study says vitamin A is one of the vitamins that boost immune system and fight infections.
This makes pumpkin a food that you should add to their diet. If you will love to get one, it is always available at any of our stores in Lagos and Abuja.
Also, Pumpkin is high in vitamin C, which increases white blood cell production. vitamin C also helps immune cells work more effectively.
Other components of pumpkin – vitamin E and folate – also help boost immune system.
5. Pumpkin Is Good For Eyesight
Growing old is one thing that affects the eyes and the vitamin A component of pumpkin is there to help you maintain a good eyesight as you age.
Studies have shown that the risk of sight loss, as a result of age, could be reduced when the body is fed the right nutrients.
Interestingly, the beta-carotene content in pumpkin provides your body with necessary vitamin A.
Meanwhile, a research that highlighted the effect of vitamin A deficiency on the eye recommended the consumption of some fruits and grain one of which is pumpkin.
6. May Lower Risk Of Cancer
Cancer is increasingly becoming one of the major causes of death.
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It is the abnormal growth of cells that eventually breaks down the body’s immune system.
Cancer cells produce free radicals to help them multiply rapidly, but a diet high in antioxidant can help neutralise these free radicals.
One component in pumpkin that does this is carotenoids.
A 2016 study says intake of beta-carotene and α-carotene is significantly associated with a reduced gastric cancer risk.
7. Pumpkin Promotes Heart Health
Some of the components of pumpkin, potassium, vitamin C and fibre, have been linked to heart health.
Potassium is known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes. These are the two risk factors for heart diseases.
Another function of the antioxidants in pumpkin is to stop bad cholesterol from oxidising.
This process stops the LDL cholesterol particles from slipping into the blood stream and clog the walls of the blood vessel. That is one of the situations that increases risk of heart disease.