September's Super Food - Pumpkin
Pumpkins come into their own during Halloween, whereby they're carved up as decorative lanterns. However, beneath their hard skin is a delicious orange flesh offering many nutritional benefits with great healing properties.
The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word 'pepon', meaning 'large melon''. By definition they are a fruit that come in either orange, yellow, green and even red.
Pumpkins are most definitely a superfood of the season with the flesh, leaves and seeds all providing a nutritional punch and packed with;
Vitamins: A, C, E & K
B Vitamins: Thiamin, B-6, Folate, Pantothenic acid, Niacin & Riboflavin
Minerals: Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Iron, Magnesium & Phosphorus
One cup of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin without salt (According to the USDA National Nutrient Database) contains:
1.76 g of protein
0.17 g of fat
2.7 g of fibre
"When cooking pumpkins, save the seeds! Roast them for a delicious and healthy snack. You can also grind the roasted seeds into a pumpkin seed butter"
Pumpkins' Health Benefits
We've outlined our favourite reasons why you should be completely obsessed with this season’s superfood! Be sure to let us know what else you love about pumpkins in the comments!
Improves Eye Health
Pumpkins are especially good for eye health and help to keep the eyesight sharp in dim light. This is due to carotenoids, the compounds that give pumpkins their bright orange colour, and beta-carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A. Pumpkins have also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness.
Reduces the risk of Developing Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is the medical name that collectively describes diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Together they increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke. Research indicates that by increasing the consumption of carotenoids, found in pumpkins and other orange coloured fruits and vegetables, helps prevent the development of Metabolic Syndrome. The seed's from pumpkins are full of phytoestrogens, which research shows are beneficial for preventing high blood pressure.
Reduces Cancer Risk
There is plenty of evidence showing that eating a diet containing antioxidant properties of carotenoids, vitamin A and vitamin E, found abundantly in pumpkins, can reduce the risk of cancer. Research is indicating that these nutrients protect against breast cancer and that carotenoids may play a role in reducing lung cancer, colon cancer and prostrate cancer.
Prevents Skin Ageing & Relieves Menopause Symptoms
Pumpkins also work wonders for the skin thanks to their beta-carotene content. They help delay signs of ageing, increase collagen production, and brighten the skin. They also help the skin to remain soft and smooth because of their high vitamin A and C presence. A recent study revealed pumpkin seed oil reduced menopausal symptoms such as headaches, hot flashes, and joint pains.
Vitamin A and vitamin C both found abundantly in pumpkins help the body fight against infections
and are an essential part of increasing your immunity. Studies have found that vitamin C can help reduce the severity of a cold. Pumpkins are also great sources of folic acid, manganese, and riboflavin which are all vital nutrients for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Relieves Bladder Issues
Research has also shows that eating pumpkin seeds helps reduce the risk of bladder stones. It also helped decrease bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance, and reduce urethral pressure.
Improves Heart Health
Thanks to the high fibre, vitamin, and potassium content of pumpkins, they are good for the heart. A good intake of potassium reduces the risk of stroke whilst fibre and magnesium help to protect the heart's health. Just a slight magnesium deficiency can create changes to the heart that increase the risk of a stroke. Magnesium is important for the pumping of the heart and for maintaining healthy blood vessels.
"A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds meet half the magnesium requirement for a day"
Improved Sleep Quality
Pumpkins are rich in tryptophan, which can help you sleep better. Tryptophan produces serotonin and this, in turn, relaxes and calms you, so you eventually fall asleep. Some experts believe this is why people tend to sleep after a heavy Thanksgiving meal!
Thankfully Pumpkins are very versatile so that you can find at least one way to benefit from their health giving properties. Check out our soup recipe but don't forget you can also make smoothies, desserts, energy bars, curries, and a lot more, just experiment and happy munching!
Abuelgassim, A. O., & Al-Showayman, S. I. (2012). The Effect of Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L) Seeds and L-Arginine Supplementation on Serum Lipid Concentrations in Atherogenic Rats. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 9(1), 131-137.
Gossell-Williams, M., C. Hyde, T. Hunter, D. Simms-Stewart, H. Fletcher, D. McGrowder, and C. A. Walters. “Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.” Climacteric 14, no. 5 (2011): 558-564.
Nimptsch, K., Rohrmann, S., Kaaks, R., & Linseisen, J. (2010). Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 91(5), 1348-1358.
Shim, B., Jeong, H., Lee, S., Hwang, S., Moon, B., & Storni, C. (2014). A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of a product containing pumpkin seed extract and soy germ extract to improve overactive bladder-related voiding dysfunction and quality of life. Journal of Functional Foods, 8, 111-117.
Sugiura, M., Nakamura, M., Ogawa, K., Ikoma, Y., & Yano, M. (2015). High serum carotenoids associated with lower risk for the metabolic syndrome and its components among Japanese subjects: Mikkabi cohort study. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(10), 1674-1682.
Tavani, A., & La Vecchia, C. (1999). β-Carotene and risk of coronary heart disease. A review of observational and intervention studies. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy, 53(9), 409-416.
Wu, Kana, John W. Erdman, Steven J. Schwartz, Elizabeth A. Platz, Michael Leitzmann, Steven K. Clinton, Valerie DeGroff, Walter C. Willett, and Edward Giovannucci. “Plasma and dietary carotenoids, and the risk of prostate cancer.” Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers 13, no. 2 (2004): 260-269.
Yadav, M., Jain, S., Tomar, R., Prasad, G. B. K. S., & Yadav, H. (2010). Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review. Nutrition research reviews, 23(2), 184-190.