Rich in nutrients that are essential for our well-being, Pumpkin is a superfood recommended by nutritionists from all over the world. It helps us to lose weight, enhances our vision, and improves the immune response, all of them while also increasing the skin health and regulating sleep. Here are the best ways to use Pumpkin for your wellness and the most delicious recipes.
Nutritional value of Pumpkin
The superfood comprises an impressive number of vitamins and minerals. It has a great taste and flavor, but it can also improve our overall health. Plus, it is packed with protein, fiber, fatty acids, and numerous other nutrients that are mandatory for our well-being. Here’s what Pumpkin contains in its composition and why we value it during fall and winter.
One cup (245g) of boiled, drained, or cooked Pumpkin has in its composition:
- 49 calories
- 2.7 g fiber
- 4.3 g protein
- 12 g carbohydrates
- 0 g cholesterol
- 0.2 g fat
- 4.9 mg Omega-3 fatty acids
- 4.9 mg Omega-6 fatty acids
- Vitamin A – 12231 IU = 245% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Vitamin E – 2 mg (10%)
- Vitamin C – 11.5 mg (19%)
- Vitamin K – 2 mcg (2%)
- Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid – 0.5 mg (5%)
- Vitamin B9 – Folate – 22 mcg (6%)
- Vitamin B1– Thiamin – 0.1 mg (5%)
- Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin – 0.2 mg (11%)
- Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine – 0.1 mg (5%)
- Vitamin B3 – Niacin – 1 mg (5%)
- Choline – 15.2 mg
- Calcium – 36.7 mg (4%)
- Phosphorus – 73.5 mg (7%)
- Magnesium – 22mg (6%)
- Iron – 1.4 mg (8%)
- Copper – 0.2 mg (11%)
- Selenium – 0.5 mcg (1%)
- Manganese – 0.2 mg (11%)
- Potassium – 564 mg (16%)
- Zinc – 0.6 mg (4%)
- Sodium – 2.5 mg (0%)
10 ways to use Pumpkin for your wellness
1. Aids digestion
One ounce of mashed Pumpkin has 5 grams of fiber and less than 40 calories, while the same amount of Pumpkin seeds contains 1.7 grams of fiber – meaning that it regulates digestion and helps you to stay satiated for longer. Fiber eliminates the symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, including constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and duodenal ulcer. Plus, it accelerates the fat-burning process and assists the consumers to get in shape.
2. Keeps the prostate healthy
Because the seeds contain beta-carotene and several other antioxidants, Pumpkin protects against cancer and reduces the inflammation. Only ¼ cup of raw seeds has 2.75 mg of Zinc, which is approximately 17% of the recommended daily dose. As proved in a clinical study, the long-term supplemental Zinc intake was linked to reduced risk of prostate cancer. Also, Pumpkin seeds contain Phosphorus – and it is mandatory for healthy sexual life. The mineral increases libido, boosts the energy levels, and, together with Zinc, helps to maintain peak levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.
3. Increases the hair growth rate
Both men and women will benefit from this effect produced by Pumpkin. Used internally or externally, mashed, in the form of oil, or herbal pills, the superfood prevents hair loss, rebuilds follicles, and accelerates the growth of healthy hair. More about oils for hair growth here. Pumpkin extract contains phytosterols, which work by blocking the hormones and enzymes that could damage hair roots and cause alopecia. Apply it as hot oil hair treatment, use it as Pumpkin seed oil gel capsules, or ingest the seed oil to obtain stronger and shinier locks effortlessly.
4. Lowers blood pressure.
Did you know that Pumpkin contains significant amounts of Potassium? The mineral reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases (stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure). At a cellular level, the Potassium from Pumpkin functions by preventing vascular calcification and blocking the buildup of calcium in the arteries. If the arteries harden because of calcium (or fat or cholesterol), it will diminish the blood flow and affect one’s heart health. What should you do? Consume regularly Pumpkin, and fend off cardiovascular diseases!
5. Eliminates intestinal worms
If you frequently find yourself snacking, especially unhealthy foods, switch to natural products like Pumpkin seeds, almonds, or oven-baked chips made of squash, carrots, or other legumes. Apart from banishing the hunger sensation, Pumpkin seeds will also improve your wellness. More particularly, they are a great natural solution for worms and human parasites. Raw Pumpkin seeds contain cucurbitin, which paralyzes intestinal worms and other parasites and expels them from the body. The best part about it? it works for people of all ages – including children – and can be used even to eliminate the parasites from your pet’s system.
6. Reduces wrinkles
Numerous nutrients extracted from Pumpkin contribute to skin health and fight against the first signs of aging. Vitamins E and A nourish the skin, reduce the UV damage, combat the symptoms of dermatitis naturally, and make your skin glow. When you want to diminish dark spots, rough patches, dryness, redness, and fine lines around the eyes, you should try a DIY face mask with mashed Pumpkin. Why do we love it? The Vitamin C from this superfood promotes collagen production, increases radiance, and supports your skin to remain smooth and supple.
7. Combats acne
The most popular acne treatments (lotions, gels, and creams) are formulated with retinoids and retinoid-like drugs. We have a guide dedicated to treatment of acne for men here. Thankfully, you can add it to your diet with Pumpkin. Instead of paying for a Retin-A prescription or risking your health with Roaccutane, consume regularly – and moderately – Pumpkin. The retinoic acid slows down the cell turnover, helps the skin to repair itself, and prevents the occurrence of clogged pores. Are your nose and forehead covered in blackheads or whiteheads? Use Vitamin A – from Pumpkin or other sources – to calm your skin and reduce pimples naturally.
8. Promotes good vision
just like other brilliant orange foods (carrots), Pumpkin has beta-carotene, which our body converts in Vitamin A. The nutrient prevents eye problems and improves the retinal health. Retinoic acid maintains differentiation of the cornea and conjunctival membranes and increases the health of the cone cells and photoreceptor rod in the retina. An adult requires approximately 700-900 mcg of retinol activity equivalents, meaning only half a cup of boiled or cooked Pumpkin. Do you want to sharpen your vision? Eat Pumpkin once a week, and prevent the dryness and opacity of the cornea!
9. Can help treat diabetes
Although it contains carbohydrates – and it could raise the blood sugar – Pumpkin also has in its composition other nutrients that work together to keep diabetes under control. It will not help you to stay away from insulin shots, but Pumpkin seeds will regulate blood sugar in patients with diabetes and slow down the progression of the condition. The polysaccharides from the superfood combat hyperglycemia, while the phenolic phytochemicals reduce the high blood pressure and prevent other possible complications of diabetes.
10. Improves the immune system.
In the cold weather and not only, Pumpkin can strengthen your immune response and help you create a barrier against flu, cold, and other infections. If Vitamin C helps you to heal and recover faster after viral and bacterial infections, Vitamin A protects against germs that could trigger respiratory conditions during fall and winter. Furthermore, Pumpkin is packed with Zinc (it is a known immune booster), Vitamin B2 (or Riboflavin – it has antimicrobial properties), Manganese (maintains normal cell growth and fights against free radicals), and fiber (it protects the gut from pathogenic microbes and maintains healthy intestinal flora), among others.
Delicious ways to benefit from Pumpkin
Unsweetened canned or freshly roasted, you can consume this type of winter squash in a myriad of ways and healthy recipes. You don’t have to be a master chef to cook Pumpkin, and you don’t have to head to the closest Starbucks to savor their Pumpkin Spice Latte, either.
Here is a selection of the easiest recipes that use Pumpkin as the main ingredient:
It is great when winter is just around the corner, and everyone around you is already cold or with flu symptoms. You need 1 small butternut squash or Hokkaido Pumpkin, 1 finely chopped onion, about 750 ml vegetable stock, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 200 ml milk (cow milk, almond milk, soy milk), raw ginger (we have talked about benefits of ginger in the past) – a piece of 30-50 g –, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp curry powder, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and some roasted pumpkin seeds. Clean, peel, and remove the seeds from the Pumpkin, cut it into small cubes, and add them together with the other ingredients (except for the milk) over the cooked, translucent onion. Boil it on medium heat for 25 minutes, make a puree out of it, then add the milk and heat for another 5 minutes. Bon appetite!
Roast two clean halves of Pumpkin in the oven, peel them, then blend the softened flesh in the food processor. You can use it for other recipes or add several spices – cinnamon, cumin, ginger, powder, salt, and pepper – and consume it as is on Thanksgiving. It’s an effective natural cold remedy!
With ½ cup Pumpkin puree + 1 cup cubed roasted apple + ¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oat + 1-2 cups whole milk + 1 cup crushed ice + 2 tbsp honey/maple syrup + 1 pinch cinnamon you will obtain the fastest, easiest, and the most delicious smoothie. Apart from energizing and setting you ready for work, this recipe is also useful when you want to stay satiated for longer and even lose weight naturally.
3-4 cups milk, 1 cup canned Pumpkin puree, 2 cups old-fashioned oats, brown sugar to taste, 2 tbsp nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts), and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice) – mix them in a bowl, then cook on high for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while. The health benefits of this easy recipe? It increases the immune response, improves the skin health, and regulates the digestion.
DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte
For your mornings in the office during this autumn: add 2 tbsp Pumpkin puree, some Pumpkin pie spice, sugar/honey, 2 cups hot milk, and ¼ heavy cream to your strong coffee, mix them well and place into a thermos. You don’t have to take a detour to Starbucks to enjoy it!
This healthy recipe requires several ingredients: 5-600 g roasted Pumpkin any Pumpkin or squash), 150 g baby spinach, 50 g feta cheese, pine nuts, 1 tbsp honey, 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently toss them in a large bowl, avoiding to make the cheese look messy, then pack it as a healthy meal for work. The nutrients included in Pumpkin and spinach maintain the heart health, improve vision, enhance immunity, and help you to keep viral and bacterial infections at bay.
No-bake Pumpkin pie in a jar
Will surprise your guests during this fall’s special events! For the Pumpkin pie filling you need 15 oz can Pumpkin puree, ¼ tsp ground ginger, 5 tbsp brown sugar, ½ tsp Pumpkin pie spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 2 tbsp heavy cream. As for the cream cheese mousse, you need 4 oz cream cheese, 3 egg whites, ½ cup of sugar, 2 cups mini marshmallows, and some vanilla for taste. Add several graham crackers or gingersnaps for the bottom and top layer of the pie, and assemble the Pumpkin filling alternatively with the cream cheese mousse until you fill up the jars. It’s not exactly quick or easy to make, but it gives your immunity a boost and improves your mood instantly!
The best Pumpkins for cooking are baking are Autumn Gold, Baby Pam, Cinderella, New England Pie Pumpkin, Ghost Rider, Lumina, and Fairy Tale. How to choose the perfect one? If it has 4-8 pounds and no soft spots or big bruises, place it in your shopping cart. You can freeze the roasted Pumpkin or keep it for months at cool room temperature. Who said that you could not enjoy eating this superfood in February?
There are numerous other ways to use Pumpkin for your wellness. Apart from enjoying it for breakfast, snack, meal, or hot drink, you can also use it as a face mask or hair treatment. It is a versatile fruit, and we all appreciate it for more than jack-o’-lanterns.
What is your favorite trick with winter squash?