Pumpkins are not just for carving. The pumpkins 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.
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! Pumpkin/squash adds fiber and protein to your diet. A cup of cooked pumpkin has 3g of fiber and 2 g of protein, notes the University of Illinois Extension.
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.
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, notes University of Illinois Extension. These minerals help you blood cells stay health. They are particularly important to women who are planning on becoming or are pregnant. The high vitamin A content is also important during pregnancy.
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C and E, which are great for stamina and energy. The potassium helps to keep you heart rhythm strong.
According to Chinese Medicine, and Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, pumpkin is cooling in nature with a slightly sweet and bitter flavor. It relieves damp conditions. Examples of damp conditions are dysentery, eczema, 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.
· University of Illinois Extension; Pumpkin Nutrition 2011
· Ohio State University Net Wellness; Carve a Place for Pumpkin in Your Diet; Julie Kennel, PhD, RD, LD, CSSD, October 2009
· Cleveland Clinic; Nutrition During Pregnancy for Vegetarians; 2009
· Healing with Whole Foods; Paul Pitchford; 2002