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The Health Benefits of Eating Pumpkin

Pumpkins

Source: Hide Obara

Pumpkin spice has taken over the fall season. At this point, we should probably just list the seasons as Spring, Summer, Pumpkins Spice and Winter. Seriously.

While pumpkin spice is a beloved and delicious autumn staple, it does have one drawback: you forget to eat REAL pumpkins.

That may not sound dire, but pumpkins are actually an excellent source of essential vitamins and nutrients. And, delicious as pumpkins spice lattes may be, they don’t provide the benefits found in a hearty helping of their titular gourd.

So why have a serving of pumpkin to go with your latte? Consider these 5 essential nutrients found in pumpkins and why you should want them as part of your diet.

Fiber

Plenty of jokes have been made about fiber’s talent for keeping your body “regular.” Predictable BM’s aside, why should you crave this important nutrient in your diet?

Fiber has numerous benefits, from lowering the risk of hemorrhoids, to lowering cholesterol, to regulating blood sugar levels.

Fiber is also a key when it comes to attaining or maintaining a healthy weight. Fiber rich foods fill you up faster and keep you full longer. As a result, you eat less food less often. Just make sure to drink a lot of water; it helps fiber do its job.

Vitamin A

We frequently accept that the alphabet vitamins are good for us, without pausing to question why or how they’re good for us. So pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A. What does that mean and why should you care?

Ever heard of carotenoids? They’re what give pumpkins’ their memorable hue. Carotenoids are also converted into Vitamin A when digested.

Vitamin A helps maintain everything from your skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue. It also helps improve your vision, especially your vision in low lighting. Your retinas act as a light-filtering system, focusing the images you see. Vitamin A is frequently referred to as retinol, because of its connection to the functions of your retinas.

Potassium

If we played a game of word association with potassium, your first response would probably be “bananas.” But bananas aren’t the only potassium rich food available. Pumpkins are also packed with this essential nutrient.

So why should you care about potassium?

Are you trying to live a healthy and active lifestyle? Exercise is fundamental to good health (and successful weight loss) and potassium is a key component of healthy exercise.

When you work out, you sweat. When you sweat, you release sodium and potassium. Potassium balances water and electrolytes, enabling your body to recover from a workout. Failing to replenish your potassium levels can result in muscle cramps, fatigue and other negative side effects.

Antioxidants

If you pay any attention to any news outlet, chances are you’ve heard the words “antioxidants” and “cancer” linked before. That’s because antioxidants have free radical fighting power.

why or how they’re good for us. So pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A. What does that mean and why should you care?

Ever heard of carotenoids? They’re what give pumpkins’ their memorable hue. Carotenoids are also converted into Vitamin A when digested.

Vitamin A helps maintain everything from your skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue. It also helps improve your vision, especially your vision in low lighting. Your retinas act as a light-filtering system, focusing the images you see. Vitamin A is frequently referred to as retinol, because of its connection to the functions of your retinas.

Potassium

If we played a game of word association with potassium, your first response would probably be “bananas.” But bananas aren’t the only potassium rich food available. Pumpkins are also packed with this essential nutrient.

So why should you care about potassium?

Are you trying to live a healthy and active lifestyle? Exercise is fundamental to good health (and successful weight loss) and potassium is a key component of healthy exercise.

When you work out, you sweat. When you sweat, you release sodium and potassium. Potassium balances water and electrolytes, enabling your body to recover from a workout. Failing to replenish your potassium levels can result in muscle cramps, fatigue and other negative side effects.

Antioxidants

If you pay any attention to any news outlet, chances are you’ve heard the words “antioxidants” and “cancer” linked before. That’s because antioxidants have free radical fighting power.

Free radicals are the chemicals that damage cells and contribute to the development of cancer. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.

Your body naturally produces some of the antioxidants you need, but an antioxidant rich diet is necessary to make up the difference. Pumpkins are rich in beta-carotenes (one of the carotenoids mentioned above), an antioxidant that has been linked to cancer prevention and a host of other benefits.

Tryptophan

Yes, we’re talking about the “turkey coma” nutrient. It’s likely the overeating that causes the post-holiday-meal-snooze, but that hasn’t stopped most people from assuming tryptophan’s only power is the ability to cause drowsiness.

In fact, tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can’t produce. That means we have to acquire it from dietary sources like, you guessed it, pumpkins.

Why get your daily dose of tryptophan? Your body needs tryptophan to make niacin to maintain your serotonin level. Serotonin is the chemical that makes you feel happy.

So why get your dose of tryptophan? You might as well ask, why be happy?

Pumpkin Guy

During this season, happiness is usually spelled “pumpkin spice.” Just try to add a slice of pumpkin to the menu – and no not just the pie – so you can find further happiness in its mood boosting, cancer fighting, vision improving, weight dropping powers.

 

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