Pumpkins are an age-old tradition of Halloween and iconic symbol of fall. But don’t overlook pumpkins as a source of nutrition. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A and fiber, and low in calories.
Raw pumpkin has only 15 calories per 1/2 cup, and is full of iron, zinc, and fiber. It’s high in vitamin C and beta carotene. Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, substances that may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Canned pumpkin has a similar nutrient profile with slightly less fiber than fresh, but more bioavailable beta carotene due to heat used in the canning process. And don’t forget the seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Following are the ways that pumpkin can benefit your health:
Cuts Cancer Risk
Like other orange vegetables and fruits, 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, according to the NIH. And the plant sterols in pumpkin seeds have also been linked to fighting off certain cancers.
Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Read more about the benefits of cooking with pumpkins at BlackDoctor.Org.
BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)