5 Health Benefits of Pumpkin
While a pumpkin spice latte is unlikely to do your health any favors this fall, fresh pumpkin is simply glowing with goodness. If you’re yet to be tempted to try the innards of that Jack-o’-lantern, here are 5 health benefits of pumpkin that could change your mind:
1. Source of Antioxidants
Pumpkin is packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that offer serious antioxidant activity. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin are all associated with supporting healthy vision throughout life.* Pumpkin is also a great source of magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc!
2. Source of Fiber
A cup of mashed pumpkin contains just 50 calories, but packs in 3 grams of soluble fiber. This means that pumpkin is a great way to fill up and cut overall calorie intake without feeling hungry. A good intake of fiber is associated with better weight management and maintaining normal regulation of cholesterol and blood sugar already within the normal range, as well as supporting digestive regularity.*
3. Healthy Immune Function!
Pumpkin is a good source of vitamins C and A (as beta-carotene), as well as zinc, all of which are essential for healthy immune function.* This makes pumpkin a great addition to any back-to-school regimen. Make a big pot of pumpkin soup for the whole family and send the kids to school with a thermos of soup to keep them warm this fall.
4. Feed Your Face!
If pumpkin carving has left you with a bigger pile of gourd innards than you care to eat, how about smearing some on your face instead? Seriously, pumpkin flesh makes an excellent face mask!
Puree a quarter of a cup of pumpkin with a tablespoon of oats and a tablespoon of soy milk or almond milk and apply the mask to your face. Use warm water to wash off the mask after 20 minutes and enjoy the feeling of soft, moisturized skin that is better prepared to face those autumnal winds.
5. Promoting Digestive Health!
Many of us with a dog, cat or other animal companion at home will already know that a little pumpkin puree can help when an occasional loose bowel function strikes. As someone who has done my fair share of emergency dog walks in the middle of the night, I can attest to the benefits of pumpkin for helping humans get a healthy amount of sleep.
Avoid occasional sleepless nights, animal distress and the overpriced pumpkin at the pet store by simply freezing small amounts of cooked pumpkin so you have it on hand in case of gastrointestinal upset in your animal friends. The fiber in pumpkin soaks up excess water in the digestive tract, helping with occasional loose stools in dogs, cats and even in pet rats. Just be sure to add an appropriate amount of pumpkin to the animal’s food, accounting for their size: A Chihuahua or cat should only get a couple of teaspoons of pumpkin, while a 120-pound Great Dane may be OK with half a cup.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.