We love pumpkins this time of year. We buy them in bulk, set mini ones out on our coffee tables and mantles to show our festive fall spirit, carve the larger ones, throw the guts out, light them up for a few nights, and then chuck them all out a day or two after Halloween. Pumpkins have a lot more value than just a decoration. Don’t toss out the seeds, guts, or anything else so quickly and don’t ignore pumpkin the rest of the year.
- Weight Loss – Pumpkin is extremely low in calories while rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This makes it a great food to keep you feeling fuller longer so you don’t overeat. The seeds have more calories, so take it easier with them, but the fiber and protein do help offset this, help you feel fuller, and even help you burn more calories.
- Digestion – That fiber also helps keep our intestines clean and running at tip-top shape, but it doesn’t work alone. The pumpkin is full of potassium and its seeds are full of magnesium. Both of these are vital to proper digestion.
- Heart – Fiber is good for the heart, but it’s the seeds that really keep your ticker running well. They contain phytosterols that reduce cholesterol, magnesium that makes for healthy heartbeats and blood vessels, omega 3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system, and antioxidants that protect the heart and arteries from damage.
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants do a lot more than just protect your heart. They travel around your blood stream mopping up free radicals that cause cellular damage which leads to accelerated aging and even cancer. Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds boast beta carotene and other carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin C, zea-xanthin, and selenium. Magnesium is also important in creating superoxide dismutase, another powerful antioxidant.
- Skin – Pumpkin is very good at keeping skin young and healthy. Many people use pumpkin masks or lotions to help minimize wrinkles. Antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamin K all help speed healing and rejuvenate skin.
- Electrolytes – Potassium in the pumpkin and magnesium in the seeds are both valuable electrolytes that help keep the body properly hydrated and our electrochemical systems performing correctly.
- Mood – Pumpkin seeds contain a good amount of tryptophan. This amino acid is used by the body to create serotonin, the main feel-good compound in our brains. Serotonin is a hormone, endorphin, and neurotransmitter that is essential in maintaining a healthy mood and combatting depression, and even plays a role in learning. Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds also contain B vitamins, which also contribute to positive moods.
- Immune System – Vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, and zinc are all part of a fully functioning immune system. Pumpkin supplies a good dose of all of these to keep you fighting off foreign invaders this fall and winter.
- Sleep – Tryptophan comes into play again. Serotonin is converted by the body into melatonin, a compound that regulates our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, pumpkin seeds may help.
- Parasites – Pumpkin seeds are used in many cultures and countries as an antiparasitic to treat and expel parasites, especially tapeworm and roundworm.
- Joints – The omega 3s and antioxidants found in pumpkin seeds and pumpkin lower inflammation and decrease pain to ease arthritis symptoms. Pumpkin also makes for stronger, healthier bones and muscles.
- Kidney Stones – Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil act as diuretics to improve kidney function and health. They also seem to prevent the buildup of calcium oxalate, the most common type of kidney stone.
- Prostrate – The phytosterols in pumpkin seeds may help shrink the prostate. These seeds also contain anti-inflammatory omega 3s and cucurbitacins, which are being studied for their effects on prostate cancer.
- Diabetes – Pumpkin and its seeds are being studied for how they affect insulin. It appears that pumpkin contains some interesting compounds that increase insulin production and performance while regenerating damaged pancreatic cells. This helps anyone control their blood sugar levels.
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