It’s November, which means pumpkin-flavored everything. That may not be a bad thing, though, since pumpkins are full of beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, C, E, and B, as well as zinc, potassium, and more – making for numerous health benefits of pumpkins. Harness these nutrients with a bit (or two) of pumpkin pie, pastries, soups, or snacks and know that you’re doing good by your body. (Just go easy on the sugar and vegetable oils that usually accompany pumpkin dessert recipes.)
Here are 5 health benefits of pumpkins!
Health Benefits of Pumpkins – 1. Maintain Healthy Vision
Vitamin A is known to help vision, and pumpkins are full of it. Just one cup of cooked, pureed pumpkin gives you over 200 percent of your recommended daily intake, not to mention a good dose of beta-carotene that the body also converts into vitamin A. Carrots also have a lot of these nutrients, which is why it’s known to help your peepers, too.(Here are 4 other ways to improve your eyesight.)
2. Protect Your Heart
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols that reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They’re also high in zinc, which is essential in healing the body. For a snack to rival potato chips in flavor and beat it by miles in nutrition, toss pumpkin seeds into the toaster after lightly coating them in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and dried herbs. These seeds are also high in tryptophan, a natural mood booster.
3. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Like carrots and sweet potatoes, pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that helps reverse skin damage. Carotenoids also help ward off certain cancers, reduce risk of cardiovascular illness, and give a hand to the immune system. (The high vitamin C content helps the immune system, too.)
4. Recover Faster from a Workout
The health benefits of pumpkins can also impact recovery speed after an intense workout. Cold weather is not excuse to stop exercising, and season pumpkins can help you recover from your workout more quickly. It’s a great source of potassium and actually contains more (564 milligrams per cup) than does a banana (422 mg)!
Another tip for exercise, check out these 10 high energy foods to boost your workout.
5. Lose Weight Healthfully
Rather than skip out on all the desserts this holiday season (which will inevitably lead to yo-yo dieting and weight gain), eat pumpkin foods in moderation. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber (three grams per cup) with only 49 calories.
If you’re worried about dessert temptation, offer to make it yourself and bring it along to a party. Turn typically unhealthy desserts nutritious by loading up on pumpkins, using good fats like coconut oil instead of vegetable oils, and substituting sugar and corn syrup with honey or grade B maple syrup.
Experience the health benefits of pumpkins today!