Posted 31st Oct 2016
Pumpkins are highly nutritious and a great seasonal autumn food which can be enjoyed in a number of ways
The flesh, seeds and seed oil are all highly beneficial for numerous reasons, and to encourage you to include more in your diet, nutrition experts provide the low-down on trying this autumnal vegetable in its different forms
1. It aids weight loss
As nutritionist Cassandra Barns says: "Pumpkin has a delicious sweet flavour like sweet potatoes, yet is much lower in calories and carbohydrates. So it’s a great swap if you’re trying to lose weight, or if you’re on a low-carb diet. It contains a good amount of fibre too – around 3 grams per one-cup serving – so will help keep you fuller for longer".
2 It's good for your skin
Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, says: "Pumpkin, along with vegetables such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes, contains high levels of beta carotene and other carotenoids, which give them their lovely orange colour. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in our body, which is one of the most important nutrients for skin integrity (meaning skin that is firm resists damage and can heal quickly). Beta-carotene itself may also help to prevent free radical damage to our cells that can result in ageing, as it works as an antioxidant. The orange vegetables are delicious as a basis for stews and soups in the winter, or roasted with other vegetables such as peppers, red onions and beetroot."
3 It's full of antioxidants
Pumpkin seed oil has very high levels of natural antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The oil is also high in the gamma-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant.
4. Improve your mood
Barns explains: "Pumpkin seeds are one of our best sources of magnesium. This vital mineral is often called ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, as it’s associated with helping us feel calm and relaxed.”
5. See the difference
Barns adds: "The vitamin A we can get from pumpkin flesh (converted in our body from beta-carotene) is also vital for vision. Vitamin A is also said to slow the decline of retinal function in those with certain degenerative eye diseases that can lead to blindness, according to researchers from Harvard. A cup of cubed pumpkin is an easy and tasty way to get your daily-recommended amount of vitamin A."
6 Hearty benefits
Pumpkin antioxidants can have a protective effect on the entire body, including our heart and blood vessels. The levels of fibre in the flesh and seeds help to keep cholesterol in check too. You can always try sprinkling pumpkin seeds on top of your salad.
7 Boost your immune system
Barns says: "Eating pumpkin can be a great way to help fend off winter bugs. Pumpkin flesh contains a decent amount of vitamin C – a critical immune system nutrient. And vitamin A is also vital for a healthy and balanced immune system. Make a big batch of warming pumpkin soup with ginger and spices for cold winter evenings.”
Image courtesy of Pixabay