When European settlers first arrived in the Americas they were greeted by unknown flora and fauna. Through the Columbian Exchange, the Native Americans gave tomatoes, potatoes, corn and pumpkin in exchange for carrots, watermelon and barley, among other things. It’s hard to believe that tomatoes were unknown to Europeans before the 15th century, or that tea and coffee were solely the products of the old world. Even more interesting is the case with pumpkin: Though the pumpkin is heavily engrained in Christian (and pagan) lore, it wasn’t introduced to the Europeans until their historic meeting with the Native Americans.
The word “pumpkin” is a general term for a type of squash. As so, they are extremely nutritious and contain an amazing amount of health benefits. Are you a fan of pumpkin pie? What about pumpkin-flavored drinks? If so, you’re in luck, because the pumpkin is one seriously power-packed vegetable. Let’s take a look at a few of the terrific nutrition benefits pumpkin has:
Vitamin A & Beta-carotene
Pumpkin is in high beta-carotene and Vitamin A, which gives it its unique orange color and is essential for eye health. Eating just half a cup of mashed pumpkin will give you your daily value in Vitamin A which is an essential nutrient for vision. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant that may play a role in the prevention of cancer.
Pumpkin is also naturally high in fiber, meaning it helps you lose weight by keeping you full longer. No matter how you prepare your pumpkin, you can revel in the fact that it’s one of the few guilt-free foods; just try not to add too many fillers including sugar.
Pumpkin seeds contain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols which have been shown to reduce cholesterol, lower your chance for heart diseases, and prevent cancer.
Potassium is great for post-workouts. It helps your muscles keep from cramping and restores the balance of electrolytes. During the fall season take advantage of pumpkin containing more potassium than bananas by adding it to a post-workout smoothie.
Beneficial Vitamins for Skin
Eating pumpkin has also been found to be extremely beneficial to your skin. Pumpkin contains high levels of zinc and both vitamins A and C, which are highly important in protecting your skin. Pumpkin not only tastes delicious, it’s power-packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals—making it one heck of a superfood.
The best part about eating pumpkin and its seeds is that you can enjoy the health benefits however you decide to prepare it. Canned pumpkin is extremely healthy, and can be added to just about anything. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great topping to any salad or snack, and pumpkin puree tastes as good as it sounds.
Remember, buying fresh pumpkin from your local grocery store is best because it does not contain additives or preservatives, but for quicker options look for puree or canned that contains limited or no additives. Now that you know the healthy benefits of pumpkin, you don’t have to feel so guilty when taking on a delicious piece of homemade pumpkin pie. You are getting extra nutrition each time you enjoy some pumpkin.
Guest Author Bio:
Beth Waters is the mother of two boys and loves finding new health and fitness fads. She is always on the lookout for new recipes and ways to make her children and husband eat more healthily. She is a freelance writer for medical companies such as and also blogs at Carrots Over Cake where she shares her journey and passion to live a healthier life.