Lifestyle

Pump up the pumpkin

Pumpkin’s bright orange colour may make them a good substitute for traffic cones, but the real power behind the “Your Bulkiness” of vegetables is their beta-carotene, a provitamin that is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Known for its immune boosting powers, beta-carotene is essential for eye health and has also been linked to preventing coronary heart disease.

There is plenty of ways to sneak pumpkin into any meal – whether it’s steamed, cooked, raw, or even the seeds! While there is no such thing as too much pumpkin, eating a lot can actually give your skin a healthy “pumpkin-like” glow. Too much beta-carotene isn’t toxic, but excessive consumption can cause a yellowish discolouration of the skin called carotenemia. But not to worry, this can be easily reversed.

Did you know that pumpkin, from a botanist’s perspective, is a fruit because it’s a product of the seed-bearing structure of flowering plants. Vegetables, on the other hand, are the edible portion of plants such as leaves, stems, roots, bulbs, flowers and tubers. Because pumpkins are less sweet and more savoury from a culinary perspective, we categorise them as a vegetable.

But more importantly, pumpkin can be used in so many ways, and that is what it is all about. If you like to cook, be creative and showcase pumpkin as the tasty and versatile ingredient it is.

Not only is pumpkin delicious, it is also an underrated super food! Here is 10 reasons why.

‣ You will feel fuller for longer when consuming pumpkin due to the fibre content. Pumpkin seeds contain up to 1.7g of fibre and mashed pumpkin up to 3g of fibre per cup. Thus it would slow down digestion and help regulate blood sugar levels.

‣ You will sleep better. Pumpkin is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid which gets converted to serotonin. Serotonin is the “feel good” neurotransmitter that helps you settle down, unwind and doze off to sleep.

‣ You will have a healthy heart. Increased fibre intake can also help protect you from heart disease.

‣ You’ll increase your prostate health. Pumpkin seeds should make their way into every man’s diet for good reason. Prostate cancer is quite common now days, and cancerous prostates show much less zinc compared to healthy prostates. Luckily, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc.

‣ You will get magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that aids in many physiological functions like the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules in the body), relaxation of the nervous system, muscle growth and regulating bowel movements.

‣ You will feel the antioxidant benefits. Beta carotene is a provitamin the body converts into Vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with its ability to fend off cancer. Beta carotene is thought to play a role protecting cells, boosting the immune system and helping to keep the reproductive system health.

‣ When you eat pumpkin, you burn the fat! Pumpkin is a great high nutrient, low calorie food. With only 42 calories per cup and loaded with fiber, pumpkin will keep you full for longer and regulate blood sugar levels to keep food cravings at bay which helps you eat fewer calories and burn more fat.

‣ A cup of pumpkin will meet your daily Vitamin A requirements that aid in the integrity of your vision, especially in dim light.

‣ You will have to eat less bananas. Bananas are popular for their potassium benefits. But did you know that 1 cup of cooked pumpkin has 564mg of of potassium compared to bananas that contains 422mg? Potassium deficiency can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness and inactive reflexes, so switch it up and rotate some pumpkin into your diet instead of solely relying on bananas for potassium.

‣ It will boost your mood. Serotonin deficiency is a growing concern for many people. The reason serotonin is important to overall wellness is because it’s our primary defence against depression and anxiety. A simple way to make sure you’re producing natural serotonin is to include food that contain the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid gets converted to serotonin in your body. Pumpkin seeds contain  loads of tryptophan which will help keep your outlook on life bright and positive!

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