Pumpkins are an age-old tradition of Halloween and iconic symbol of fall. But don’t overlook pumpkins as a source of nutrition. Pumpkins are loaded with vitamin A and fiber, and low in calories.
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Raw pumpkin has only 15 calories per 1/2 cup, and is full of iron, zinc, and fiber. It’s high in vitamin C and beta carotene. Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, substances that may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Canned pumpkin has a similar nutrient profile with slightly less fiber than fresh, but more bioavailable beta carotene due to heat used in the canning process. And don’t forget the seeds: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Following are the ways that pumpkin can benefit your health:
1. Cut Cancer Risk
Like other orange vegetables and fruits, the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. Food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than a supplement, according to the NIH. And the plant sterols in pumpkin seeds have also been linked to fighting off certain cancers.
2. Reduce Cholesterol