Perhaps the greatest bounty of the autumn season is pumpkin.
Pumpkins are not only festive and make for great decoration, but they’re also incredibly healthy and can be eaten in various ways.
Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost your health in many ways.
Pumpkins Are Low-Calorie and Nutrient Dense
A one-cup serving of pumpkin is packed with all sorts of essential nutrients, yet it only contains about 50 calories. This combination means that you can fill up on pumpkins and get a lot of vitamins and minerals without worrying about packing on the pounds (but be mindful of the added sugars and fats in pumpkin pie!).
Pumpkins are especially high in vitamin A, providing you with 245% of the recommended daily value in just one cup.
Pumpkins Are Antioxidant-Rich
Vitamin A is involved in a wide array of essential functions in the body. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage.
Antioxidants are important because they help fight off harmful compounds called free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to disease.
In addition to vitamin A, pumpkins also contain other important antioxidants like vitamins C and E, carotenoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. All of these work together to keep your cells healthy and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Pumpkins May Boost Immunity
The pumpkins’ vitamin A also helps keep your immune system functioning properly.
Vitamin A is involved in the production of epithelial and mucosal tissues, which serve as the “front line” of defense against infection by preventing bacteria and viruses from entering the body.
Vitamin A also helps antibodies to move and function properly, which can help fight off any pathogens that do manage to enter the body.
And with all those antioxidants, pumpkins can also help reduce inflammation throughout the body, further boosting immunity and protecting against disease.
Pumpkins May Improve Your Eye Health
Pumpkins contain several nutrients essential for eye health, including vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Pumpkins are one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are both associated with a reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
While eating a bunch of pumpkins probably won’t allow you to ditch your corrective lenses, it may help protect your eyesight from getting worse as you age.
Pumpkins Can Improve Your Skin Health
The antioxidants in pumpkins can also be beneficial for your skin.
Vitamin A and vitamin C, for example, are necessary for producing collagen and elastin, the two primary proteins that make up the connective tissue in your skin.
Collagen and elastin help keep your skin firm, plump, and smooth. If you don’t get enough vitamins A and C, your skin may become dry, wrinkled, and unhealthy looking.
So include pumpkin in your diet this season—they will improve your physical health and help your skin look nice and fresh for the fall and winter months!