The Health Benefits of Pumpkin And Its Side Effects

the health benefits of pumpkin

The health benefits of pumpkin have a lot. Pumpkins offer vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and folate – all of which strengthen your immune system. More pumpkin in your diet can help your immune cells work better to ward off germs and speed healing when you get a wound. Here we are going to discuss the benefits of pumpkin and its side effects.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a nutritious food that may provide certain health benefits. However, most research on the health benefits of pumpkin has used pumpkin oil extract, pumpkin seed oil, or pumpkin seeds and has been conducted on rodents. Very few studies have investigated the benefits of pumpkin flesh on humans. But there are studies that link the nutritional components of pumpkin and other squash varieties to potential benefits.

Lowers Disease Risk

Researchers have identified certain foods that they identify as “powerhouse” fruits and vegetables. These are foods most strongly associated with reduced chronic disease risk by providing higher levels of bioavailable nutrients such as vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and others. Pumpkin made the list, with a higher nutrient rating than winter squash varieties such as butternut squash.

Lowers All-Cause Mortality

Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant, and you’ll get a healthy dose of it when you consume pumpkin. Antioxidants help repair oxidative stress and are considered to be protective against certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

One large-scale review regarding the health effects of beta-carotene found that several studies connected a higher intake of beta-carotene to a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Prevents Age-Related Vision Loss

Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A which is essential for eye health. Vitamin A is important for good eye health and maintaining your vision, especially as you age.

Research has indicated that taking supplements or consuming foods with beta carotene may help prevent age-related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a form of vision loss that becomes more common as people age. A report published in 2011 found that when study participants took a supplement containing high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc they showed a 35% decrease in age-related macular degeneration. In addition to beta carotene, pumpkin also contains high levels of vitamin C, some vitamin E, and small amounts of zinc.

Supports Skin Health

Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, with a 1-cup serving containing up to 19% of the recommended daily amount (RDA). Vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, which is the main protein in the skin. While aiding skin structure, it also provides antioxidant protection against photodamage caused by the sun’s UV rays.

While vitamin C can be applied topically for some skin benefits, the authors of one study noted that multiple intervention studies concluded that healthy skin is also associated with fruit and vegetable intake. Although they note that the active component in the fruit and vegetables responsible for the observed benefit can’t be identified, vitamin C availability may be a factor.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Vitamin A in pumpkins may also play a role in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin A is important for regulating cell growth and differentiation. Some studies have examined the association between vitamin A and certain cancers including prostate and lung cancer.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the relationship between beta-carotene and lung cancer in people who smoke has been studied, although research does not yet show a clear connection and trials are ongoing. There is also some evidence that a higher intake of vitamin A may lead to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. But the relationship between vitamin A and cancer risk is also not firmly established. There are also safety concerns about taking high levels of vitamin A (particularly in supplement form).

You will Feel Fuller

Pumpkin seeds contain up to 1.7g of fiber, and mashed pumpkin has up to 3g of fiber per cup. Why is this important? First off getting 30-50g of fiber a day is recommended, unfortunately, most people only get about half of that or less. Don’t worry, having some winter squash-like pumpkin in your diet consistently (I’ll show you how you can do it at the end of this post) sets you up on the right path to hit your dietary fiber needs. Secondly, eating pumpkin increases satiation and helps you feel fuller longer, by slowing down digestion and regulating blood sugar levels.

You will Sleep Better

Pumpkin is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin, which may also explain post-Thanksgiving sleepiness. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter that helps you settle down, unwind and doze off to sleep.

You will Get Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that aids in many physiological functions like the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), relaxation of the nervous system, muscle growth, and regulating bowel movements. And, 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Just 1 oz. of pumpkin seeds delivers about 30% of your daily recommended magnesium requirements.

You’ll Feel the Antioxidant Benefits

Beta carotene is a provitamin the body converts into vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with its ability to fend off cancer. Beta carotene is thought to play a role in protecting cells, boosting the immune system, and helping to keep the reproductive system healthy. Get some pumpkin into your life! A half-cup of canned pumpkin packs 953mg of vitamin A and only 42 calories.

When You Eat Some Pumpkin, You Burn the Fat

Pumpkin is a great high-nutrient, low-calorie food. With only 42 calories per cup and loaded with fiber, the pumpkin will keep you full longer, and regulate your blood sugar levels to keep food cravings at bay which helps you eat fewer calories and burn more fat.

It’ll Keep Your Eyesight Sharp

A cup of pumpkin will meet your daily vitamin A requirements that aid in the integrity of your vision, especially in dim light according to the National Institute of Health.

You will have to Eat Fewer Bananas

Bananas have made themselves popular for their potassium benefits. But did you know that a cup of cooked pumpkin has 564mg compared to bananas’ 422mg? Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and inactive reflexes, so switch it up and rotate some pumpkin into your diet instead of solely relying on bananas for potassium

It will Boost Your Mood

Serotonin deficiency is a growing concern for many people. Researchers claim that it’s an epidemic inflicting its unique dark cloud of misery on people and it’s noted that 80% of people suffer from serotonin deficiency. The reason why serotonin is important to overall wellness is that it’s our primary defense against depression and anxiety. A simple way to make sure you’re producing natural serotonin is to include foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan which gets converted to serotonin in your body. Pumpkin seeds contain loads of tryptophan which will help keep your outlook on life bright.

245g Pumpkin Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: 0.17g
  • Sodium: 390mg
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Fiber: 2.7g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 1.8g

Carbs

There are 49 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrates in a cup of freshly cooked pumpkin. Some of that carbohydrate is fiber (2.7g) and some is naturally occurring sugar (5g). The remaining carbohydrate is starch.

The carbohydrates in pumpkin are filling, while also having a minimal impact on blood sugar as measured by its glycemic load. This makes pumpkin a good option for people with diabetes.

The Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) both measure the effect a food has on blood sugar. While pumpkin has a high GI of 75, the glycemic load (which takes portion size into account) is estimated to be just 3. GL is considered a more accurate way to measure a food’s impact on blood sugar because it is based on the typical serving size.

Fats

There is barely any naturally occurring fat in fresh pumpkins. Some varieties of canned pumpkins contain added fat. In addition, many pumpkin-flavored foods contain added fat. For example, pumpkin pie and many pumpkin-flavored baked goods contain added fat.

Pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks, popular during the fall and winter months, often contain fat from the dairy that is used to make them. However, these drinks typically do not contain any pumpkin and are instead flavored with pumpkin pie spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Protein

Pumpkin is not a rich source of protein, with just 1.8 grams per cup. However, many pumpkin fans add fresh or canned pumpkin to protein-rich meals or smoothies. As a fiber-rich carbohydrate, pumpkin is a flavorful and healthy way to balance out our high-protein meals.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene—a carotenoid or natural pigment—which gives it its bright orange or yellow color. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, which helps you to maintain healthy skin, teeth, and vision. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.

Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin E, riboflavin, copper, and manganese. And you’ll benefit from smaller amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

Pumpkin Side Effects

May Lead to Weight Gain

Eating pumpkins on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very beneficial for individuals who are on a weight loss regime or who would like to get rid of some extra pounds.

This benefit is mainly due to the low calorific value of pumpkins. Eating 100 grams of pumpkin provides around 26 kcals of energy which means one can enjoy pumpkin without worrying about weight gain.

In addition to this, they are also rich in dietary fibers that keep our stomach fuller for a longer duration and decrease our urge to eat again and again and thus controlling overheating, a major cause of obesity. The water ( around 92 percent) present in the pumpkin plays a significant role in the weight loss process.

Although pumpkin is very beneficial when it comes to “weight loss”, it should also be remembered that the best way to use pumpkin for weight loss is to eat it in the form of vegetables, and not in another form like smoothies, etc. This is because these smoothies may have added sugar and calories, and this may lead to weight gain.

Even if you’d like to enjoy pumpkin smoothies, make sure that there are no added calories to them. Otherwise, your plan of “weight loss” will go down the drain.

In addition to this, “Pumpkin seeds” which are said to provide numerous health benefits, are also a leading factor for weight gain. This is because of their high calorific value. Eating 100 grams of pumpkin seeds provides around 446 kcals of energy.

Not So Good for Our Digestive System

Regular and moderate consumption of pumpkin is very beneficial for our stomach and helps in keeping our digestive system healthy. This benefit of pumpkin is mainly due to the presence of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibers, etc. in them.

The dietary fibers present in the pumpkin act as a natural laxative improve bowel movement and ensures the smooth elimination of waste from our body.

Doing so, not only provides relief from constipation but also reduces the risk of digestive disorders like abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, etc. Other nutrients like vitamins and minerals also play a significant role in maintaining our digestive health.

Although the dietary fibers present in the pumpkin provide a number of benefits, still it is better to eat pumpkin in moderation as there are also some side effects of excessive intake of dietary fibers.

Some of the major side effects of overeating dietary fibers are malabsorption, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, indigestion, intestinal gas, intestinal bloating, etc. For this reason, it is better to eat pumpkins in moderation.

May Cause Hypoglycemia

Pumpkin has been found to be very beneficial for diabetic patients who are at risk of developing diabetes. This benefit of pumpkins is mainly because of the low sugar content ( carbohydrates) present in them.

Consuming pumpkins on a regular basis slows down the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream and this helps in controlling diabetes.

Additionally, the dietary fibers present in the pumpkin also play a significant role in diabetes management because of their ability to reduce the absorption of sugar by the bloodstream.

Although pumpkin is very effective in controlling diabetes, still it is better to eat them in moderation as eating too much pumpkin may drop your blood sugar to a dangerously low level, and this may give rise to “Hypoglycemia”.

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which our blood sugar level goes down to a dangerously low level giving rise to symptoms like blurry vision, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, headache, dizziness, excessive hunger, excessive sweating, loss of consciousness, etc.

Also, if you are a diabetic patient and already taking medication for the same, then the inclusion of excessive pumpkin in your diet may interfere with the medication and may cause your blood sugar level to drop in the danger zone.

This is another reason to eat pumpkin in moderation, and if you are on medication, then it is better to eat pumpkin only as per the advice of the doctor.

May Cause Hypotension

Consuming pumpkins on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very effective in keeping our blood pressure under control and thus reduces the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure. This benefit of pumpkin is mainly due to the presence of vital “Potassium” in it.

Potassium is a vital mineral that acts as a vasodilator, relaxes our blood vessels, and improves blood circulation in our body. By improving blood circulation, it helps in maintaining blood pressure levels and thus helps in reducing the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure. Although pumpkin is very effective in controlling high blood pressure, still, it is better to eat pumpkin in moderation.

This is because eating too much pumpkin may reduce the blood pressure to a dangerously low level, and give rise to hypotension or low blood pressure.

Hypotension is a condition in which our blood pressure drops down to an abnormally low level giving rise to symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, clammy skin, depression, blurry vision, etc.

Also, if you are suffering from hypertension and already taking medication for the same, then eating too much pumpkin along with the medication may interfere with the medicines, and may cause hypotension.

For this reason, it is better to eat pumpkin in moderation and only as per the recommendation of the doctor ( if you are on medication ).

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