Healthy Living

Is Pumpkin A Superfood? Health Benefits You Need To Know

Pumpkins are classified as superfood by health aficionados for they are filled with nutrients and serve as low-calorie side dishes. Pumpkins are considered vegetables, but scientifically speaking, they are actually fruits since they have seeds. But in terms of nutrition, pumpkins are more like vegetables. It is one of the winter squash fruits that are popularly used during Halloween and Thanksgiving as decoration. 

With sufficient vitamins A, E, C and potassium, the fruit offers many health benefits. One cup of sliced pumpkin has only 30 calories with 7 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Consumers must be aware of the canned pumpkin that contains added sugars and must go for the fresh fruit varieties.

One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 5 grams of fiber, which fills up the stomach and promotes weight loss. Listed below are some of the advantages derived from consuming pumpkins.

Protection Against Free Radicals

The spread of free radicals can lead to chronic illnesses that come from stimulating oxidative stress. Pumpkins are rich in antioxidants and help contain diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Though more research conducted on humans is necessary, there is some evidence to suggest that antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin prevent free radicals from damaging health. 

Reduces Cancer Risk

Carotenoids are known to protect the body from different types of cancer since the compounds perform the function of antioxidants. One review of 13 studies illustrated that consuming plenty of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene brought down risk of stomach cancers significantly. It also lowers the risk of throat cancer, breast and pancreatic cancer, among others. Scientists are skeptical whether this comes from the lifestyle led by people who consume carotenoid rich food like pumpkins. 

Protects Immunity

Pumpkins are rich in vitamin C that is useful to protect the immune system in cold temperatures. The peptides are contained within pumpkin seeds, and their antimicrobial effects also help protect the immune system. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 254 percent of the required daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, which fights bladder and kidney infection. 

Improves Eyesight

Deficiency of vitamin A causes blindness and other eye related conditions. Beta-carotene in pumpkins supply the body with enough vitamin A to improve eyesight as well. In a particular review of 22 studies, scientists said that people who regularly consumed a high proportion of beta-carotene are known to reduce risk of cataracts, which leads to blindness. 

Prevents Diabetes

Due to its low calories and fiber content, weight loss is inevitable, one of the main factors to keep type 2 diabetes at bay. Pumpkins without added sugars can benefit people trying to control diabetes or maintain normal blood sugar. Phenolic phytochemicals can come in handy to keep blood sugar levels in check and consequently reduce risk of diabetes. 

pumpkins Starbucks' seasonal PSL has a place in our hearts, but can leave too much on our stomachs. Photo courtesy of Pixabay