It's no secret that pumpkins are perfect Halloween decorations, but did you know they’re also great for your health? With high concentrations of essential vitamins and minerals, pumpkins are beneficial in more ways than one.
1. Pumpkin keeps your eyes healthy
Carrots may work wonders for our peepers, but it turns out they’re not the only orange veggie valuable to our vision. According to Self Nutrition Data, one cup of pumpkin contains over 170 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin A. “Vitamin A plays an important role in your vision,” an American Academy of Ophthalmology article explains. “To see the full spectrum of light, your eye needs to produce certain pigments for the photoreceptor cells in your retina to work properly…Without enough vitamin A, your eyes cannot produce enough moisture to keep them properly lubricated.” In other words, eating pumpkin can help keep your night vision on point and your eyes well–lubricated!
2. Pumpkin is good for your skin
In addition to vitamins A and E, pumpkins provide a hefty dose of vitamin C, which is great for your skin. According to an article published in Dermato-Endocrinology, L-ascorbic acid—aka Vitamin C—benefits the skin not just when applied topically, but when ingested orally too, by stabilizing the structure of collagen. That means eating pumpkin can help keep your skin soft and wrinkle-free.
3. Eating pumpkin can improve heart health
While the vitamin C in pumpkin is great for your skin, it also has some heart health benefits. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins in 2012 found that “large doses of vitamin C may moderately reduce blood pressure.” While eating pumpkin may not be able to replace medication for individuals with very high blood pressure, they may help regulate blood pressure in those who are only slightly above the normal range.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds can also have a positive impact on heart health. According to an article posted to the US National Library of Medicine, “increased consumption of seeds, including whole grains, nuts, legumes, cocoa products, and coffee, is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus, or a significant reduction in CVD risk factors such as serum cholesterol or blood pressure.” So instead of discarding the seeds from your pumpkin, pop them in the oven to roast for an extra heart health boost.
4. Pumpkin can help you manage diabetes
According to Medical News Today, the magnesium in pumpkin can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes: “For every 100 milligrams/day increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15 percent.” With 22 milligrams of magnesium, one serving of pumpkin gets you over 20% of the way there.
Additionally, ScienceDirect notes that pumpkin can actually be used as an alternative to insulin in the treatment of diabetes. “There are many different types of insulins available to treat diabetes,” the abstract explains, “but there are still physiological consequences for such use. Alternatives are, therefore, required and this includes herbal preparations as well as dietary plants in the form of curcubitaceae [pumpkin].”
5. Pumpkin reduces inflammation
Research published in Nutrition Research Reviews notes that “pumpkin-supplemented foods are considered a good source of anti-inflammatory substances,” and that they can help in the treatment of diseases, such as arthritis. This is because pumpkins contain natural antioxidants, which, according to Harvard Health, can “reduce the risk of inflammation, and with it, chronic disease.”
So, when you head out to find that perfect jack-o-lantern, don’t hesitate to pick up an extra pumpkin for dinner. Not only will it put you in the holiday spirit, but it might just make you a little healthier this Halloween season.