Halloween is fast approaching so I thought I’d dedicate this blog to talking about the huge nutritional benefits of the pumpkin.
How does the amazing array of nutrients in a pumpkin support our health?
Look at how a 85g portion of baked pumpkin contributes to our recommended daily amounts and therefore to a healthy diet.
Vitamin A – 77%
Vitamin B1 & B6 – 7%
Vitamin C – 22%
Vitamin B6 –
Folate – 9%
Fibre – 2%
Why are these nutrients so important?
One of the most abundant nutrients in the pumpkin is beta-carotene it has been shown to have very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Beta-carotene is able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is the type that builds up in blood vessel walls and contributes to the risk of heart attack and stroke, getting extra beta-carotene in the diet may help to prevent the progression of atherosclerosis.
Protects against Heart Disease
It may also protect against diabetic heart disease and may be useful for preventing other complications caused by free radicals often seen in long-term diabetes. Additionally, intake of foods such as winter pumpkin that are rich in carotenoids may be beneficial to blood sugar regulation.
Reduces Blood Sugar levels
Research has suggested that physiological levels, as well as dietary intake, of carotenoids may be inversely associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that a good intake of beta-carotene can help to reduce the risk of colon cancer, possibly by protecting colon cells from the damaging effects of cancer-causing chemicals.
Protect against lung Cancer
Pumpkin are particularly rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid also found in high amounts in corn, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, oranges and peaches, may significantly lower one’s risk of developing lung cancer. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reviewed dietary and lifestyle data collected from over 60,000 adults in China and found that those eating the most crytpoxanthin-rich foods showed a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When current smokers were evaluated, those who were also in the group consuming the most cryptoxanthin rich foods were found to have a 37% lower risk of lung cancer compared to smokers who ate the least of these health-protective foods.
Fibre to Fight Colon Cancer
In addition to its ability to lower high cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of heart disease, the fibre found in winter squash is also able to prevent cancer-causing chemicals from attacking colon cells. This is one of the reasons why diets high in fibre rich foods have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Folate to Help Prevent Birth Defects and Heart Attack and Support Colon Health
The folate found in pumpkin may help to prevent certain birth defects if taken by women before and during pregnancy. Folate is also needed by the body to break down a dangerous metabolic byproduct called homocysteine, which can directly damage blood vessel walls.
So instead of throwing the flesh of your pumpkin in the bin to make a lantern, use it to make a healthy nutritious meal.
For specific nutritional advice or treatments Stuart Mclean, Nutritionist and Herbalist works at the clinic every Friday and Saturday.