There are numerous types of pumpkin in all shapes and sizes with many similar nutritional values. Powerful antioxidants known as carotenoids give pumpkin its “superfood” status. These compounds have the ability to ward off heart disease and cancer as well as certain eye-related diseases.
Pumpkin flesh contains vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium and a staggering quantity and variety of carotenoids, being one of the most abundant natural sources of these amazing phytonutrients. Pumpkin is also high in fibre with a one-half cup serving providing approximately 5 grams.
Pumpkin is packed with various nutrients and carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids are orange, yellow, and red coloured, fat-soluble compounds occurring in a variety of plants. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange colour of fruits and vegetables, and are also found in many dark green vegetables. Carotenoids help to protect you from free radicals, enhance cell-to-cell communication, and modulate your immune response. They also protect your skin and eyes from damage caused by ultra violet light.
Pumpkin is the highest source of alpha carotene, which may be even more powerful than beta carotene. Pumpkin contains 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of alpha carotene, along with close to 300 percent of beta carotene, and only 83 calories in a cup!
Alpha carotene and beta carotene have been tied with multiple health-promoting and disease-fighting benefits such as:
Reduces inflammatory arthritis
Decreases the risk of various cancers (breast, lung and colon)
Lowers the rate of heart disease
It’s not just the inner meat of a pumpkin that’s healthy, but its seeds, pepitas, are super nutritious too.
Pumpkin seeds are a superfood that the American Native tribes prized for its culinary and medicinal value.
High in fibre and protein, these seeds are also a rich source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are believed to be beneficial for things like prostate health, bone strength, arthritis, and are also believed to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol and also improve the body’s immune system. The seeds come raw, roasted, shelled, and unshelled. Just a quarter of a cup provides approximately half the daily recommended dose for magnesium and iron, in addition to high doses of zinc, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, manganese and copper. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan known for anti-depressant qualities, and essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids assist in improving mental function and aiding memory.
The dark green oil produced from pumpkin seeds has been used throughout history in India, Europe and America to fight parasites, aid the digestive tract and help with prostate and reproductive disorders. It has been recommended for pregnant and lactating women because of its high content of essential fatty acids. The essential fatty acids in pumpkin seeds are also necessary for prostate health, and zinc (which pumpkin seeds are especially high in) is great for the reproductive systems and has been shown to reduce prostate size, and have been found to help prevent against prostate gland enlargement.