Search
  • PALM Centre

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

Protein 0.72g

Carbs 4.9g

Fat 0.07g

Sat. fat 0.037g

Dietary fibre 1.1g

Sodium 1mg


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.


References

  • American Heart Association, 2016. How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure [online]. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/How-Potassium-Can-Help-Control-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.WeXVGluCzX5 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

  • De Lorgeril, M. and Salen, P., 2004. Alpha-linolenic acid and coronary heart disease. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases [online], 14(3), pp.162-169. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15510909 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • Kerns, M., 2017. Pumpkins & Fiber [online]. Healthyliving.azcentral.com. Available at: http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/pumpkins-fiber-16921.html [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • National Institutes of Health, 2013. Vitamin A [online]. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-

  • Consumer/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

  • Obenschain, C., 2014. 6 surprising health benefits of pumpkins [online]. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/

  • 2014/10/21/health/health-benefits-of-pumpkin/index.html [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

  • Organic Facts, 2017. 11 Surprising Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds [online]. Available at: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/pumpkin-seeds.html [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • Tavani, A. and La Vecchia, C., 1999. β-Carotene and risk of coronary heart disease. A review of observational and intervention studies. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy [online], 53(9), pp.409-416. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10554676 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • Theuwissen, E. and Mensink, R., 2008. Water-soluble dietary fibers and cardiovascular disease. Physiology & Behavior [online], 94(2), pp.285-292. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/

  • S0031938408000024 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • United States Department of Agriculture, 2016. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 [online]. Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3142?manu=&fgcd=&ds= [Accessed 17 Oct. 2017].

  • University of Maryland Medical Center, 2015. Omega-3 fatty acids [online]. Available at: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

  • Ware, L., Charlton, K., Schutte, A., Cockeran, M., Naidoo, N. and Kowal, P., 2017. Associations between dietary salt, potassium and blood pressure in South African adults: WHO SAGE Wave 2 Salt & Tobacco. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases [online], 27(9), pp.784-791. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

  • 28800936 [Accessed 19 Oct. 2017].

16 views