It’s that time of year yet again when pumpkins are flooding the shelves in supermarkets, farmers’ markets and greengrocers. At Vital Health and Wellbeing, we know that pumpkins are often seen as nothing more than a Halloween decoration. However, there is so much more to the humble, seasonal pumpkin than meets the eye as they have attributes which far exceed their lantern-making credentials.
Pumpkins actually boast superfood status thanks to an impressive array of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Furthermore, they are juicy and delicious, and a superb addition to your diet. So if you and your family are looking forward to doing a little pumpkin carving, then make certain that you hold on to the flesh. It’s highly versatile and can be roasted for a delicious side dish, whizzed up into a tasty soup or even used in traditional pumpkin pie.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the pumpkin nutrition statistics you need to know:
1. Pumpkin flesh contains a long list of vitamins which are essential to ensuring our overall good health and wellbeing. They boast vitamin A and vitamin E, as well as B-vitamins, which include folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
2. Pumpkin seeds are also a vital source of nutrition. They are full of high levels of iron, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and an amino acid called tryptophan, which is purportedly very good for our brain health and development.
3. All orange-coloured vegetables contain important antioxidants called carotenoids. However, whilst carrots and sweet potatoes boast high levels of carotenoids, pumpkins are one of the top contenders when it comes to gram-for-gram levels. Carotenoids are vital for supporting a number of effective human biological functions and ensuring our overall good health. There are two main carotenoids, in particular, which are present in pumpkin. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are both exceptionally powerful phytonutrients which offer protection against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. In addition, zea-xanthin is also present. This is a natural antioxidant that is purported to protect against age-related macular disease (ARMD), an irreversible eye condition that can eventually result in vision loss.
4. Dieticians and nutrition experts highly rate and recommend pumpkins. And if you are either trying to maintain your existing weight, or you are looking to shed a few pounds, then incorporating pumpkins into your diet is a wise move. Pumpkins are naturally very low in calories and they contain no saturated fats or cholesterol either. However, pumpkins are extremely high in important dietary fibre – you only have to look at the slightly ‘stringy’ flesh for proof! Foods which are rich in dietary fibre will fill you up and also keep you feeling fuller for longer, which is ideal if you are trying to lose weight as it will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels (which can guard against developing type 2 diabetes) and consequently prevent the munchies. In addition, we all need to eat plenty of foods which boast high levels of dietary fibre in order to maintain a healthy digestive system.
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