Diana Nelson

Why You Need Pumpkin In Your Diet

Why pumpkin is needed in your diet and how it will benefit your health. Explore the health benefits of pumpkin that you probably didn't know you had.

pumpkin food health benefits

The pumpkin is the oldest plant in Central America. It comes from Mexico, where it was cultivated for 5000 years B.C. Archaeologists say the pumpkin was cultivated in Peru before maize was even introduced. American Indians used pumpkin as a food and its hard ripe parts were used to make kitchenware. Today, of course, people no longer make cookware out of pumpkins, but they continue to use this healthy product in their diet.

Pumpkin – Nutrition facts

Pumpkin has low energy value and a small amount of protein and fat. Not a big amount of carbs and small sugar content, almost no fibre. What is important to note is that pumpkin has a very high glycemic index which means that it will cause a higher blood sugar spike. It also contains a good amount of vitamin A, small potassium and medium copper.

source: USDA
source: USDA

Pumpkin – Good news

Let’s find out why you should include more of this nutritious and versatile type of winter squash in your diet.

1Promotes heart health

Pumpkin contains many nutrients that can improve your heart health. It contains potassium, vitamin C and fibre, which are beneficial for the heart.

For example, studies have shown that people with higher potassium intake have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of strokes, two risk factors for heart disease.

Potassium intake is associated with a lower risk of stroke -13% Source: PubMed

2Lowers risk of cancer

Human studies have shown that people with a higher intake of carotenoids have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Furthermore, carotenoid consumption also reduced the risk of gastric cancer. However, scientists are unsure whether carotenoids themselves or other factors – such as the lifestyle of those who consume carotenoid-rich diets – are responsible for reducing the risk.

Dietary α-carotene intake may reduce breast cancer risk by -9% Source: PubMed

3Improves eye health

Along with vitamin A, pumpkin contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are protective against age-related macular degeneration. According to a study published in February 2017 in Nutrients. Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness among older people.

4Gut and systemic immunity

The gut immune system is uniquely well-equipped to respond to dietary-derived factors and micronutrients and in some cases relies on these food signals for its functioning. Nutritional deficiencies highlight the importance of micronutrients in the regulation of mucosal immunity. One dietary micronutrient that has emerged as a critical mediator of the mucosal immune response is vitamin A, which the pumpkin contains.

5Contains antioxidants

Pumpkin contains antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. They neutralise free radicals, preventing them from damaging cells. Free radicals in turn create a condition in the body called oxidative stress, which is linked to chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.

6May support healthy skin

Pumpkin contains nutrients that play an important role in the health of our skin, these include vitamins C and E.

Vitamin C is not produced by the body naturally, so we must get it from food, as it is involved in the formation of collagen, which makes the skin firm and elastic. Vitamin C also helps prevent bruising and promotes wound healing. Vitamin E is an excellent antioxidant and, together with vitamin C, helps protect the skin from sun damage and dryness.

pumpkin soup food benefits for health

Pumpkin – Are there any side effects?

Pumpkin is a natural product. There are no noticeable side effects caused by eating pumpkins. But we will still provide you with some information to be cautious about.

Possible pumpkin pulp allergy

While rare, an allergy to pumpkin is possible, especially if you have a history of allergy to other winter squash such as butternut squash. If you have any suspicious symptoms, such as itchy eyes, skin rashes or other possible allergic symptoms after cooking or eating pumpkin, be sure to visit your doctor for testing and treatment.

Pumpkin seeds allergy

A study published in September 2021 in Nutrition investigated the possibility of allergic reactions to pumpkin seeds and noted a case where a two-year-old child developed anaphylaxis after eating pumpkin seeds. The same patient was not allergic to pumpkin pulp. Once again, it is important to visit the doctor if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction to the pumpkin pulp, seeds, or rinds.

Fun & curious facts about pumpkin

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 pounds (1677 kg).

  • In Ethiopia, where temperatures often exceed 50°C (122°F), villagers wear dried pumpkin hats similar to the cork helmets of the British in colonial times.

  • Every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the skin, leaves, flowers, and stem.

Pumpkin in the Blue Zones

Pumpkin is particularly loved in Sardinia. One of the first dishes discovered by Dan Buettner, explorer of the Blue Zones, in Sardinia, was sweet pumpkin fritters.

Also, the pumpkin is a favourite product of the long-livers of Loma Linda, USA. In their recipe, they use acorn pumpkin and stuff it with quinoa, onions, celery, dried berries, nuts, dried apricots, and sage.

Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica, is another Blue Zone region that enjoys pumpkin in its diet. Long-livers there make a pumpkin puree soup with beans.


Let’s sum pumpkin up

Pumpkin is a superfood that will protect you from cancer, make your heart stronger, provide you with sharp vision, fill your body with antioxidants and make your skin healthier. Pumpkin has almost no side effects and is very popular among the long-livers in the Blue Zones.

Not enough? Here is more

Lacey Baier is an expert on clean eating and intermittent fasting. In this video, she explains why you should eat pumpkin and what positive effects it brings to the body.

Healthypedia FAQ

245 grams of pumpkin will provide you with all the nutrients you need.

Fresh pumpkins should be firm to the touch. It is best to stay away from those that have soft spots or hollows, as the fruit has already started rotting.

Like all types of winter squash, pumpkins can be baked, roasted, boiled, stewed, steamed, and puréed. However, for the best flavour, it is better to grease the skins and pulp with a little oil and bake or roast in the oven.

Pumpkins should be stored in a cool place. Store them upside down (so the stalk is on the bottom). Do not place them directly on the floor – use a piece of cardboard as a mat for the pumpkin.

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