Did you know that the world’s heaviest pumpkin broke the record on October 9, 2023 to clock in at 2,749 pounds? That’s bigger than an American bison, two grand pianos or even a Toyota Prius! But that’s not the only fun fact you’re going to learn about this glorious gourd today. The month of October is all about celebrating this nutrient-rich fruit (yes, like the crafty avocado, it’s also a fruit). So, let’s take a moment to discuss the many health benefits of the perfectly praiseworthy pumpkin.
Vision. We’ve been crediting the carrot for good vision and eye health for years, but what about the pumpkin? According to Produce for Better Health, a ¾-cup serving of pumpkin provides 130% of the recommended daily value of vitamin A. This essential vitamin has been directly linked to proper night vision and visual acuity. (Ergo, pumpkin pie equals better eyesight. Don’t question it. It’s science.)
Digestion. One cup of canned pumpkin contains about 7.1 grams of fiber. That’s almost a third of the recommended daily allowance for women and almost a fourth for men. Besides regulating your blood sugar, fiber also aids in removing bad cholesterol from the body. If you’ve ever brought a constipated dog to the vet, you know. Pumpkin is often the first line of defense. (TMI, dog owners?)
Blood pressure. Increasing your potassium intake can lower your blood pressure thereby also reducing your risk for heart disease and stroke. And with one in three Americans battling high blood pressure, we suggest you put down that banana. Offering 14% of your recommended daily allowance compared to the banana’s measly 12%, pumpkins are packed with potassium. (Say that three times fast.)
Immunity. We can’t talk pumpkins without talking about beta-carotene. Also found in carrots and sweet potatoes, this antioxidant converts within the body to vitamin A which is beneficial in warding off sickness and disease. In addition to their substantial vitamin A content, pumpkins and their seeds are also rich in vitamins C and E, folate, iron, selenium and zinc. That’s 7 of the 8 micronutrients needed for a healthy immune synonym. (For the math challenged, that’s 88%!)
Bone health. Pumpkins are loaded with potassium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus … all of which play a key role in bone formation and maintenance. They’re also a great source of essential omega-3 healthy fats which have been associated with a decrease in inflammation and an increase in bone health. Studies have demonstrated that “women with higher blood levels of these precious fats have been shown to have lower rates of hip fracture.” (Skeletons, bones, pumpkins … the linkages are all starting to make sense now.)
80% of the U.S. pumpkin crop comes available in October. So, hurry and grab yours today!
Michele Robert Poche