Now that fall has arrived, pumpkin is the star of the show once again. In addition to the deliciousness that is pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes, this autumnal superstar actually has the ability to improve your health. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, pumpkin is much more than a tasty treat. In fact, studies have shown that it can help reduce your risk of cancer, boost your immunity, and even promote healthy skin. Continue reading to learn four health benefits that make pumpkin a superfood.
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Pumpkin Reduces Your Risk of Cancer
Studies have shown that consuming pumpkin has the ability to lower your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. More specifically, it is the carotenoids which pumpkins contain that essentially act as antioxidants and help neutralize free radicals (free radicals are dangerous atoms that damage cells, causing illness). An analysis of studies conducted on the correlation between carotenoids and gastric cancer, published in the National Institutes of Health, found that people who consumed higher doses of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene (two common carotenoids in the Western diet) had significantly lower risks of stomach cancer. Beta-carotene is the carotenoid that relates to pumpkins, as it is the name for the pigment found in red and orange-hued fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin.
Pumpkin Improves Your Immunity
Building up your immune system is key, especially as we make our way into winter. Luckily, there is a fall favourite that can help! As noted above, pumpkin is chock full of beta-carotene, which your body transforms into vitamin A. Research shows that vitamin A can help strengthen your immune system, which is exactly what you need to be able to fight off nasty winter infections and viruses. Pumpkin has also been found to contain Vitamin C, which has been proven to stimulate the production of white blood cells; these help immune cells work quicker and more effectively. As if two vitamins weren’t enough, pumpkin also contains vitamin E, iron, and folate, which all help the immune system as well.
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Pumpkin Promotes Eye Health
Have you ever heard your mom say that eating carrots can help improve vision? Turns out this isn’t totally bogus, the reason being — you guessed it, beta-carotene (the carotenoid responsible for the orange hue of pumpkins and carrots). In fact, pumpkin contains such a high level of beta-carotene that it can help protect your eyesight. Studies have found a link between diets that include more beta-carotene and eye health. Beyond beta-carotene, pumpkin is also rich in vitamins C and E (which may block free radicals from damaging your eye cells) and lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidant compounds that help prevent cataracts and even lower your risk of muscular degeneration.
Pumpkin Keeps Skin Healthy
By now, you’ve probably gathered that pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and nutrients. This makes it majorly beneficial for your skin. First, let’s go back to beta-carotene. Beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A once ingested, has the ability to protect your skin from the sun’s powerful UV rays. That’s right — pumpkin is a natural sunblock! Furthermore, the Vitamin C in pumpkin is the key ingredient needed to produce collagen. Collagen is what helps you maintain a strong, plump complexion.
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