6 Surprising Health Benefits of the Halloween Pumpkin
This nutrient-dense food isn’t just for carving. Make the most of your seasonal pumpkin by feasting on its fleshy fruit!
24 October 2018
Aside from the chance to dress up like the cast of Stranger Things, the best thing about Halloween is getting to flex your creative muscles by carving up a triangle-toothed pumpkin.
The only problem is, it feels like a waste of money (and good food) when the date finally passes and your pumpkin, rather sadly, gets cast into the bin.
But if your Jack-o’-lantern is still fresh when you toss it away, you’re actually making a huge foodie mistake – pumpkins are one of the most nutritious foods out there. Better yet, there’s loads you can do with them. You can whizz your pumpkin into a soup, stick it in a smoothie or bake it into a traditional pumpkin pie.
Here are just a handful of reasons to get creative in the kitchen with yours this year.
1. It can keep winter colds and flu at bay
There’s nothing more comforting than curling up with a piping hot bowl of soup on a winter’s evening, but adding pumpkin into your recipe has the added bonus of protecting you from from the dreaded office lurgy. Pumpkins and winter squash contain important nutrients called alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which have been scientifically proven to boost immunity.
2. It can keep you looking young
Here’s a cheaper alternative to your expensive skin care habit: chop up your pumpkin instead. The fleshy part of your orange orb is packed with vitamin C, which can help to even out your skin tone, shield your skin from the visible impacts of pollution and improve collagen production – helping you to look younger for longer.
3. It can keep your eyes in check
Your pumpkin’s brilliantly luminous colouring comes from its potent supply of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This essential vitamin is important for eye health, helping the retina to absorb and process light.
Just a single serving of pumpkin contains over 200% of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it easy to get an additional boost. Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are said to help to prevent cataracts.
4. It might lower your risk of cancer
As well as being great for eyes and skin, Beta-carotene can also help to fight cancer. Research from the National Cancer Institute shows that people who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.
5. It can help you to recover after a gym session
Most people think bananas are the best way to give yourself an instant energy hit, but pumpkins are way ahead of the game. A single cup of cooked pumpkin is loaded with 564 milligrams of potassium, the refuelling mineral that can help you to recover after a particularly intense session on the treadmill. Surprisingly, a banana has just 422.
6. It can make you happy
Feeling blue? Pumpkin seeds are instant mood boosters. This is because they are a brilliant source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is converted to serotonin, a chemical associated with healthy sleep and happiness. The body cannot make tryptophan on its own, so having a batch of pumpkin seeds to snack on is an easy way to get more of it into your diet.