Pumpkin is loaded with Beta-carotene
Pumpkins are not just for carving. The pumpkin’s bright orange color is a dead giveaway that it is loaded with an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body. Other orange squashes are similarly gifted.
Current research indicates that foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protection against heart disease. Beta-carotene is also believed to protect against some degenerative aspects of aging. However, it doesn’t end there!
Additional nutritional benefits of pumpkin (and squash)
Pumpkin adds fiber and protein to your diet. A cup of cooked pumpkin has 3g of fiber and 2 g of protein. (1)
Pumpkin contains calcium. Many of my patients are encouraged to find alternatives to dairy. Pumpkins are a great way to still get your calcium! One cup of cooked pumpkin has 37 mg of calcium. (1)
Pumpkin contains iron, magnesium, and folate. One cup of cooked pumpkin has 1.4 mg of iron, 22mg of magnesium and 21 mcg of folate. (1) These minerals help your blood cells stay healthy. They are particularly important to women who are planning to get pregnant, and during pregnancy. The high vitamin A content is also important during pregnancy.
Pumpkin is high in vitamins C and E (1) which are great for stamina and energy.
The potassium in pumpkin (1) helps to keep you heart rhythm strong.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and the pumpkin
According to Chinese Medicine, pumpkin is cooling in nature with a slightly sweet and bitter flavor. It relieves damp conditions. Examples of damp conditions are dysentery, eczema, and edema. It also helps to regulate the blood sugar (used for diabetes and hypoglycemia).
If Fall turns you into a phlegm ball you should eat more pumpkin because it helps to expel mucus from the lungs, bronchi, and throat. It also has been shown to benefit bronchial asthma. Cooked, it is believed to destroy intestinal worms, but not as effectively as the seeds. (2)
You can use pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato in this recipe!
- University of Illinois Extension – Pumpkin Nutrition
- Pitchford, P (2002). Healing with Whole Foods 3rd edition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books