The Almighty Pumpkin
As far as I can remember, the Jack-o-lantern and Halloween have gone hand in hand. Year after year, families taking a ride to the pumpkin patch, looking for the perfect orange melon or melons. Once picked, they’re taken home, gutted, and cut into a scary looking facial figure- usually with a candle burning on the inside, thus becoming the Jack-O-Lantern.
Aside from sitting on the front porch, as a Halloween ornament, many families also take the seeds from the pumpkin and roast them in the oven for a snack, bake pies, cakes, even pumpkin soup. However, there are many people who simply discard the insides of this fruit, not realizing the nutritional value they provide and dumping it into the trash. Today, we will take a look at 8 Health Benefits you may not know that the Pumpkin Offers:
Pumpkins, and their seeds, are saturated with zinc and carotenoids, which help protect against prostate cancer. These compounds prevent growth of the prostate and over-stimulation of the male hormones that cause prostate problems. Similar to their cousins the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash, pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. Food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than a supplement.
Pumpkin contains high amounts of phytosterols- plant-derived compounds that are similar in structure and function to cholesterol. It can replace and or reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol, taking it back to a healthy level.
A cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium than a banana, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
It does wonders for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells; building resistance to various kinds of infections. Packed with Vitamin C, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the 60 milligrams the IOM recommends women need daily. (Men should aim for around 75 milligrams.)
One of the cause of depression is the lack of tryptophan- precursor of serotonin and was used formerly as a dietary supplement especially to promote sleep and relieve depression in our diet. Pumpkin is rich with L-tryptophan. When this chemical compound is supplied, it activates the feeling of happiness and well-being, reducing the depressed mood.
Pumpkin seeds are also great for the kidneys. By taking about 5 – 10 grams of pumpkin seeds daily prevents stones formation in the kidneys.
The high quantity of anti-oxidants in the form of vitamins A, C and E, and zinc, provide the synergistic healing virtues that are great for the skin. These healthful properties are best obtained by drinking of its juice regularly.
Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that are very useful against the arthritis and joint inflammation.
The next time you’re carving your favorite Halloween masterpiece, keep in mind of the nutritional value that is available when you hollow out the insides. Keep the seeds, as they are a rich source of nutrients, including unsaturated fat, antioxidants, and fiber. Boasting almost 12 grams of protein per cup, pumpkin seeds also include many other vitamins and minerals, especially zinc (almost half of the daily recommended intake). Simply roast your pumpkin seeds in the oven with a little cooking spray, then toss them in your salads, mix them into your granola, or eat them alone for a snack.
Take advantage of all the benefits the “All Mighty Pumpkin” has to offer this Halloween season and all the ones that follow! And did I forget to mention Thanksgiving as well… Pumpkins are great at any time.