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Pumpkin Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Pumpkin?

Pumpkin is a fast-growing vine that creeps along the surface in a similar fashion like that of other Cucurbitaceae family vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, squash, cantaloupes…etc. It is one of the most popular field crops cultivated around the world, including in the USA at commercial scale for its fruit, and seeds.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Sharper vision: Pumpkin’s brilliant orange coloring comes from its ample supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.

Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.

Boost Your Sex Life: Pumpkin seeds provide a good dose of zinc (one-quarter cup contains almost 17 percent of your daily need). The mineral appears to play a role in men’s sexual health, including fertility, potency, and sex drive

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Blood pressure: Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.

Consuming adequate potassium is almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension (high-blood pressure). Other foods that are high in potassium include cantaloupe, avocado, pineapple, tomatoes, oranges, spinach, and bananas.

Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density, and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

Heart and Liver Health: Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds

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Uses of Pumpkin

In order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins. Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

Raw pumpkin seeds can be roasted on a low heat setting in your oven (no more than 170 degrees F or 75 degrees Celsius), sprinkled with Himalayan or other natural salt, for about 15-20 minutes.

Nutritional value of Pumpkin

Pumpkin fruit is one of the widely grown vegetables incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins. Though this humble backyard vegetable is less in calories, nonetheless, it carries vitamin A, and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, xanthin, and carotenes in abundance.

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Consuming one cup of cooked, canned pumpkin would provide well over 100 percent of our daily needs for vitamin A, 20 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, 10 percent or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese, and at least 5 percent for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Of course, using fresh pumpkin and preparing it at home will deliver the most health benefits, but canned pumpkin is also a great choice. Be sure to steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mix, which is usually right next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores and in a similar can but has added sugars and syrups.

Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient: pumpkin.