The fall season brings a bounty of winter squash, like the beloved pumpkin, as staples of Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities. But the tasty orange-hued vegetable is also packed with nutrients. While experts point out that because of their seeds, pumpkins are technically a fruit, their nutritional properties mirror those of most vegetables.
According to Healthline, here are some of the health benefits:
- Rich in vitamin A. Pumpkins offer 245% of the recommended daily intake of this powerful vitamin that is critical for vision and immune function, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Reduces chronic disease. The antioxidants in pumpkins such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin help neutralize free radicals that have been linked to heart disease and cancer.
- Protects eyesight. Pumpkins are packed with two other powerful antioxidants — lutein and zeaxanthin — as well as vitamin A, B6, and K to help protect the eyes from harmful rays of the sun. Lutein is especially good at filtering out blue light, the kind that glares from your computer or phone screen.
- Promotes weight loss. Pumpkins, like other forms of squash, are “nutrient-dense foods.” According to Healthline that means they pack a powerful nutritional punch with very few calories. At only 50 calories per cup, you can eat more of this delicious carb without feeling guilty!
- Boosts heart health. The generous amounts of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber found in pumpkins can help your heart, according to Healthline. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of potassium may have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes. Potassium in the body not only contributes to cardiovascular health but also protects muscles from deterioration, preserves bone density, and reduces the production of kidney stones.
- Promotes healthy skin. The beta-carotene in pumpkins, which your body converts to vitamin A, acts as a natural sunblock. According to Real Simple, beta-carotene is an essential nutrient that preserves eye health and prevents skin damage while maintaining a youthful appearance by tightening the pores.
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