Winter vegetables are known nutritional powerhouses, and though it’s commonly only thought of as a good pie-maker and sometimes-soup ingredient, pumpkin has numerous different health benefits that should move it to the forefront of your cold season menu. Some research involving rats, performed by East China Normal University in 2007, found that damaged pancreas cells regenerated more easily when pumpkin extract was consumed. The pumpkin extract ignited a boost in insulin levels, showing a possibility for the food to be beneficial for pre-diabetic or diabetic humans.
Why You Should Eat Pumpkins!
This hard squash is an excellent source of zinc, Vitamin A, potassium, and Vitamin E. Along with other nutritional goodies, these help make pumpkins a super health food.
The vegetable is a mild anti-inflammatory and has a low glycemic load. The Vitamin A (or carotenoids converted to Vitamin A) is higher in pumpkin than any other vegetable. These nurture vision health, immune function, cancer prevention, and tissue repair.
Good for heart and blood health, potassium can also reduce muscle cramping in athletes (which is why endurance athletes often munch on bananas). A cup of pumpkin as 564 mg of potassium, making it an even better choice than that banana (which has just over 400 mg).
Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of zinc, plus, they’re delicious. Zinc is crucial to developing the immune system and keeping cells healthy. Roast your own or find some organic already roasted seeds (sometimes called “pepitas”) in your local health food store.
Natural News reports that pumpkin seed oil is an excellent source of essential fats, phytosterols, and vitamins E and K. It is reported to nurture healthy brain function and skin condition. It may even work to lower cholesterol and improve metabolism.
One study published in Urology International found that male rats with enlarged prostates experienced significant improvement through the supplementation of pumpkin seed oil. The oil essentially shrunk their enlarged prostates.
Pumpkins are an under-appreciated health food that deserve a much better treatment than the annual holiday pie. Try making a winter-time soup of pureed pumpkin or a pumpkin curry with plenty of ginger and garlic. Munch on pumpkin seeks for a snack or use them as a salad topping. Not only will these options taste great—they’ll help keep you healthy and ward off infections during this time of year.