It’s that time of year again… for pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin smoothies, and pumpkin everything! If you’re a super-fan of pumpkin, fall is definitely your season! But for how amazing this fall fruit tastes, you may not even realize that the health benefits of pumpkin are equally as impressive.
As if you needed another reason to love it, this article will go over the nutritional value of pumpkin and how it benefits your body. Believe it or not, the antioxidants in this super-fruit may even help you fight off some of those nasty winter colds on the way! Plus, we’ll give you a few of our favorite pumpkin protein shake recipes to make your season that much more delicious. Let’s take a look at some major pumpkin benefits, ranging from boosted immunity, to enhanced disease-fighting power and more.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Super High in Vitamins (Esp. Vitamin A)
Pumpkin contains an impressive line-up of essential vitamins and minerals – including being one of the best sources of beta carotene. Once consumed, your body turns beta carotene (which is a carotenoid) into vitamin A. Therefore, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains 245% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin A! It also contains 19% of the RDI for vitamin C, 16% for potassium, and 11% for copper, manganese and Vitamin B12.
Helps Boost Immunity
Pumpkins are also high in nutrients that help fortify your immune system. For starters, the vitamin A we just talked about has been shown to boost immunity and help fight infections. In studies, those with a deficiency in this important nutrient were shown to have a weaker immune system.
In addition, the vitamin C found in pumpkin can help increase white blood cell production and help immune cells work better. Plus, pumpkins also contain vitamin E, iron and folate to support enhanced immunity.
May Reduce Risk of Disease
Pumpkins also contain powerful antioxidants (including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) – which protect your cells against potential damage by free radicals. These free radicals are “unstable molecules” that can damage the cells in your body in excessive amounts. But pumpkin, therefore, contains properties that help counteract these effects – namely sickness, illness, disease and aging.
Protects Healthy Eyesight
Pumpkin also contains nutrients that are invaluable for protecting your healthy eyesight as you get older. For instance, research shows that vitamin A deficiency is a common cause of blindness (and, as discussed, pumpkin is high in beta-carotene, which creates vitamin A). In addition, pumpkin is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin – which have been linked to a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Assists with Weight Loss
When it comes to pumpkin nutrition, this fruit is jam-packed with essential nutrients while also being low in calories – which can assist with your weight loss goals. Pumpkin has just 50 calories per cup, and is about 94% water. It addition, it’s packed with fiber, so it can help keep you full and suppress appetite.
Supports Heart Health
The nutrients and antioxidants in pumpkins can also help support optimal heart health; For instance potassium, vitamin C and fiber all support a healthy heart. In fact, studies show that a diet that’s high in potassium helps lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. In addition, the antioxidants and fiber in pumpkins help improve good cholesterol in your body and reduce bad cholesterol, potentially lowering your risk of heart disease.
Promotes Glowing Skin
Next, many of the same nutrients in pumpkin that promote heart, eye, and immune health can also greatly benefit your skin. For instance, carotenoids (like beta-carotene) help protect skin cells from the damage caused by harmful UV rays. In addition, vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen – a protein that’s essential for healthy, youthful skin.
How to Get More Pumpkin in Your Daily Diet
Now that you know how awesome pumpkin is for you, you’re likely craving it even more. Especially if you’re already in love with the taste of this fall fruit, getting more in your diet isn’t going to be difficult. But it’s helpful to know that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy pumpkin choices.
Here are some tips for keeping your pumpkin season totally healthy:
- Steer clear of sugar-laden pumpkin beverages… Instead, make your own healthier versions (recipes below)!
- While canned pumpkin can be a healthy addition to recipes, it should only have one ingredient: pumpkin. Steer clear of canned pumpkin pie mixes, which are sold in cans right next to regular canned pumpkin in stores, but contain added sugars and syrups.
- If you have the time, consider making your own pumpkin puree instead of buying canned (which is even healthier).
- Use pumpkin puree as a great fiber-packed ingredient in healthier baked goods.
3 Pumpkin Shake Recipes
Ready to get your pumpkin on?! Here are a few mouthwatering recipes to kick your pumpkin season off right.
Pumpkin Pie – This indulgent pumpkin shake recipe uses pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), banana, vanilla protein powder, and almond milk. It will taste just like the kind at your favorite dessert, minus the calories and sugar!
Pumpkin Chai Shake – This pumpkin protein shake features our top-rated protein powder, and it’s also a coffee drink – giving you the best of both worlds, smoothie + latte! The drink will taste just as good as the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) at your local coffee shop, while being free from sugar and full of satisfying protein to keep you full for hours.
Pumpkin Banana Smoothie – This decadent smoothie tastes just like pumpkin pie in a glass, but much, much healthier. It features pumpkin puree, banana, a nut butter of your choice, almond or coconut milk, yogurt, spices, and vanilla protein powder. You can also add in spinach for extra nutrients and likely won’t even taste it!
Did you enjoy this article? Please let us know in the comments, below. Plus, check out our top-rated diet shakes right now, so you have a high-quality protein powder to add into all your pumpkin smoothies!