Most people only associate pumpkin with annual Thanksgiving pies, Pumpkin Spice Lattes or seasonal treats. The benefits of a pumpkin are significant and supersede those of some superfoods. You can serve pumpkins mashed, in puree, with chicken or add them to your latest batch of wintertime soup.
Pumpkins have high amounts of vitamins A and E, fiber, thiamin and folate. They also contain manganese, which helps reduce neurologic damage and inflammation, and dietary zinc. Good for vision and heart health, they also boast anti-cancer benefits and are even useful for treating high blood pressure.
A Pumpkin a Day: Benefits of a PumpkinThe health benefits of a pumpkin are numerous, and Americans should consider incorporating more pumpkins into their daily diets. Here's the low down on how healthful pumpkins are for you.
Carotenoids Are Powerful Antioxidants
Part of the organic, fat-soluble pigments that give plants and fruits their color, carotenoids also play a major role in long-term health.
Some studies show that foods high in carotenoids can play a role in helping to reduce free radical damage in the body. Once carotenoids are digested, they take the form of provitamin A. This protective antioxidant helps reduce oxidants and inflammation in the body.
Pumpkins have abundant carotenoids, which can contribute to reducing inflammation in the body. They’re also excellent for reducing inflammation associated with cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.
Could Prevent Eye Diseases
Studies have linked vitamin E and antioxidants, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, to healthy vision. Because this helps to decrease eye inflammation, they play an essential role in disease prevention. These antioxidants can help alleviate inflammation that is caused by UV sun rays. This plays a significant role in age-related eye diseases.
Pumpkins are high in zeaxanthin, lutein and vitamin E, which makes them excellent for helping prevent diseases that are caused by oxidative stress or inflammation in the eyes.
Could Protect the Body Against Infections
One type of bacterial infection is bacterial gastroenteritis. This disease is aggressive inflammation in both the stomach and intestines. Also known as “food poisoning,” symptoms are painful and can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin A helps the body direct immune cells towards the intestines, which helps provide for better stimulation of the immune system, as well as helping to prevent infections.
Studies indicate that vitamin A helps to trigger the body’s immune cells that line the intestines, which can help trigger faster responses to bacterial infection threats. This can also keep infections away from the bloodstream and tissue.
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, which can reduce bacterial infections, especially those types associated with food poisoning.
Could Lower the Risk of Stroke and Heart Diseases
People that eat high amounts of vitamin B6 and folate are at lower risks of developing heart diseases. Since cardiovascular diseases lead to heart failure, stroke or heart attack, it is important to regulate cholesterol levels and blood pressure to prevent chronic diseases from developing. Vitamin B6 reduces homocysteine levels in the body. High homocysteine levels damage arteries and can create more blood clots, which can lead to developing multiple cardiovascular diseases.
Diets rich in vitamin B, which is abundant in pumpkins, can influence cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reducing the levels of homocysteine in the body.
Patients with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is a fatal disease that gradually deteriorates the brain, decreasing its ability to produce and release the neurotransmitter, dopamine. This is responsible for the stimulation of emotion, movement and communication.
A recent study about Parkinson’s revealed that taking vitamin B3 or niacin relates to the therapeutics of the disease. Niacin also helps to prevent neurons from deteriorating, which are responsible for repairing brain damage. The more neurons that are alive and healthy, the better chances of fighting and delaying the onset of Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative brain disease. A diet that contains high niacin, such as pumpkins, can help prevent cognitive responses from declining.
Some studies show that vitamin A and B6 can help prevent and treat some types of cancer. For example, one study shows that vitamin A has the power to unblock the HOXA5 gene, which can allow cancerous cells to grow in the stem cells of the colon. Another study shows that vitamin B6 can help prevent lung cancer. Vitamin B6 can restrict and prevent DNA damage and gene mutations that can cause rapid growth of cancerous cells in the lungs. Vitamin A can aid in treating pancreatic cancer cells, suppressing fibrosis levels and tumor growth.
Pumpkins can help suppress tumor growth and decrease cancer cells from multiplying.
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