Pumpkins for heart health?
Over the years, pumpkins have become synonymous with Halloween and the autumn season. However, these vibrantly orange, hydrating fruit bear a plethora of nutritional benefits that can be enjoyed all year round. And yes, a pumpkin is a fruit! In fact, a pumpkin has incredibly high water content, just slightly higher than that of a watermelon! (pumpkin: 91.6% watermelon: 91.45%)
Source of Vitamin A
Aside from its juicy content, the pigment that provides pumpkin with its orange hue comes from the antioxidant beta-carotene. When ingested, your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. Not only is vitamin A crucial for eye health, it might possibly prevent one from cardiovascular disease (CVD). One cup of pumpkin exceeds 200% of most people’s recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Rest assured, excessive consumption of beta-carotene isn’t deadly, but it may cause the skin to turn yellow, a harmless and reversible condition called carotenemia.
Source of Potassium
Pumpkins are also a good source of potassium. This is particularly beneficial for those with hypertension (high blood pressure). Typically, decreased sodium intake is recommended to lower blood pressure. However, sufficient potassium intake is just as important in treating hypertension. These two minerals work hand in hand, as potassium helps to remove sodium from the body through urine. It also helps relieve tension in blood vessel walls, further lowering blood pressure.
Source of Dietary Fibre
This fruit also contains soluble dietary fibre which aids in lowering cholesterol, preventing atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries). That’s not all! Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepita contain both phytosterols (plant sterols) and alpha-linolenic acid, also known as, omega-3 fatty acid which helps with lowering the LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in our body. Omega 3 also have antioxidant properties that improve endothelial (tissue lining interior of blood vessels) function and ultimately boost our heart health.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, the nutritional information of 100g of cooked, boiled, or drained pumpkin is as follows:
Total energy 20 calories
Sat. fat 0.037g
Dietary fibre 1.1g
Now that you know the many heart healthy benefits of pumpkins, you should consider having it more often! It is delicious steamed, roasted or can even be made into desserts. And the next time you cook it or carve it for halloween, don’t discard the seeds! They can be roasted and made into a delicious, nutritious snack.
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