Pumpkins: Good for Much More than Just Carving

If you only think of pumpkins when you’re decorating for Halloween, you may be missing out on the distinctive deliciousness and nutrients contained within this big orange squash. Not only is the pumpkin’s colorful flesh rich in antioxidants, its seeds are an excellent source of certain minerals and contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.

Just inside of its hard, ribbed exterior lies its edible, orange flesh. Composed of about 90% water, pumpkin flesh is low in calories and sodium, and, like other squashes, it’s a good source of fiber and potassium, as well as vitamins B2, B6, C, and E. But one of the main contributors to pumpkin’s nutritional nature lies in its color: The compounds responsible for pumpkin’s characteristic carrot-like color include beta-carotene and related nutrients called carotenoids. Some of these compounds can be used in the body to make vitamin A, but may also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting activities of their own. Researchers have found that carotenoids and vitamin A play a role in regulating metabolism and preventing obesity, and may partly explain how fruits and vegetables protect against a range of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Just one cup of pureed pumpkin provides more than double the daily requirement for vitamin A in the form of carotenoids.

Source: International Journal of Molecular Science

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