9 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkins You Didn't Know About

Pumpkins are superfoods packed full of nutrients and taste.

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Pumpkins are much more than colorful Halloween decoration or Thanksgiving pie filler. This seasonal winter squash, which is technically a fruit, is readily available this time of year and can be cooked in a myriad of ways. Besides being delicious, pumpkins are highly nutritious, rich in vitamins and minerals, and come with many health benefits.

What's great about pumpkins is how versatile they are. You can use pumpkins in soups, in bread and other baked goods, drink it in juices and smoothies, and pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack. It's best to use fresh pumpkin, but canned pumpkin is available year-round; just be sure to use the 100 percent puree and not the pie mix which contains a lot of sugar.

1. Aids Weight Loss

Eating Pumpkin can help you lose weight. Pumpkin is low in calories - a cup of cooked pumpkin contains less than 50 - and is made up of over 90 percent water. Pumpkin is also a great source of dietary fiber which can make you feel fuller for a longer time.

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2. Boosts Your Immune System

Pumpkin is packed full of nutrients that can help enhance your immune system. Pumpkin contains a large amount of vitamins A, C, E, iron, and folate. Vitamin A can strengthen your immune system. Vitamin C increases white blood production and helps your immune system work effectively against infections. Vitamin E, iron, and folate are important vitamins that aid in healing and hemoglobin production.

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3. Reduces Cancer Risks

Pumpkin is also high in carotenoids; eating a beta-carotene rich diet may help lower the risk of some types of cancer including prostate and colon cancer. Vitamins A and C are antioxidants that can aid your body's defenses against cancer.

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4. Regulates Blood Pressure

Adding pumpkin to your diet – which contains potassium, Vitamin C and fiber – aids in heart health. A potassium-rich diet can help reduce high blood pressure and this may be as important as lowering your salt consumption.  Increasing your potassium intake is also associated with a lower risk of strokes. Pumpkin seeds are especially rich in heart health benefits.

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5. Improves Vision

You can lower your risk of age-related vision loss by eating the vitamins contained in pumpkin. Vitamin A aids vision, especially in dim light, and just half a cup of cooked pumpkin contains 200 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A. Eating more Beta-carotene has been linked to reducing the risk of cataracts. Pumpkins are also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin compounds that have been proven to lower the risks of macular degeneration.

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6. Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

Eating pumpkin has been shown in medical tests to reduce blood glucose levels and this can be a huge aid if you have type 2 Diabetes. Pumpkin has also been shown to improve the way your body metabolizes sugar and uses insulin.

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7. Healthy Skin

Pumpkin is chock full of enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids – the active ingredients in skin care products – that increase cell turnover and improve the way your skin looks and feels. Vitamins C and A soften the skin and boost collagen production that can help prevent signs of aging.

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8. Improves Men's Sexual Health

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of Zinc which is a necessary mineral for healthy sperm production. The high levels of antioxidants and nutrients in pumpkin can aid in maintaining healthy testosterone levels and fertility, as well as a lower risk of prostate cancer.

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9. Reduces Inflammation

Pumpkin is also rich in the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin. This carotenoid can reduce inflammation and swelling which has been linked to a reduction in the symptoms and risk of arthritis.

Packed full of all these great health benefits, pumpkins really are a superfood. So, when you head out to the pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkins to carve, don't forget to pick up a few extra.

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