As we enter the autumnal months and Halloween springs fast upon us and we busily carve pumpkins with our loved ones, I often think what on earth am I going to do with the leftover carved pumpkin once Halloween has ended. Here I look into the benefits of consuming pumpkin to bring another use of the glorious orange vegetable.
We know the pumpkin as typically a bright orange, round vegetable with a tough smooth skin. The pumpkin is part of the squash family and can be deemed as the most popular one of them all! Like many vegetables you can eat the whole pumpkin when cooked, including the pulp, seeds and skin. While they are phenomenal for carving with the family and provide hours of fun, they also have a delicious taste with health benefits and nutritional value to go alongside this.
DIETARY FIBRE CONTENT
Pumpkins are a great source of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is important for digestion, aiding in keeping us fuller for longer and has been associated with reducing type 2 diabetes mellitus. As a nation around many of us fall flat of the new recommendations for daily fibre intake which is 30g per day. A portion of fresh pumpkin cooked ranges to nearly 3 grams of fibre and canned up to 7g, which can help us increase or hit that daily target.
GREAT FOR THE SKIN AND EYES
The pumpkin holds a high content of vitamin A, C and E. More specifically vitamin A has been linked to benefitting eye vision as it protects the surface of the eye, as well as decreasing the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin C helps promote collagen synthesis which is beneficial for glowing skin and healthy nails and hair. Lastly vitamin E is known for its benefits towards the skin, which is why we see many people using vitamin E oil on the body and face.
Beta-carotene is the wonderful antioxidant that gives the pumpkin its bright colour and the precursor to vitamin A. Research has shown consuming beta-carotene helps protect the body against free radicals and may lower the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
AIDS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The vitamin C and E content in the pumpkin helps aid in immune defence by performing numerous cellular functions within the immune system. Vitamin C is also necessary for growth and repair throughout the body, helping the maintenance of cartilage and bones as well as healing wounds. Likewise, because the body cannot synthesise vitamin C itself, it is essential we consume it through dietary ways.
OTHER NUTRITIONAL VALUE
While the pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin C, E and A, it also provides for a great source of potassium, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin B. Pumpkin can also be a great substitute for a carbohydrate source on days where you may be less active, due to its low-calorie content. Additionally, by consuming a serving (80g) of cooked pumpkin, this can provide you with one of your five a day and you can mix pumpkin into any meal of the day. Lastly, the pumpkin seeds inside contain a potent amount of protein and plant based fatty acids which are vital for brain function and regulating cholesterol levels.
So now you know the possible health benefits, why not try introducing pumpkin into your diet and make more of your leftover pumpkin this autumn. My personal favourites are a piping hot bowl of pumpkin soup or a slice of rich pumpkin pie. Find what you like and enjoy the seasonal popular pumpkin!