Pumpkin is a popular fruit to add to pies and all sorts of desserts, but what are the benefits of eating pumpkin as it is? Not at all surprising, the bright orange fruit is actually a healthy food to eat plain. A source of B vitamins and iron, pumpkin makes a good anti-anemia food and combats fatigue. It is satiating and filling, but low in calories so it isn’t fattening, but actually helps with healthy weight loss. There are also digestive benefits to eating pumpkin as well as benefits for skin health. Find out these 6 super benefits of pumpkin to get you motivated to eat the fruit as it is.
Benefit no. 1: Pumpkin for constipation
Did you know that pumpkin is especially good for constipation? If you’re experiencing constipation, wait a few hours or until you feel hungry and have a slice of baked pumpkin or a generous serving of canned pumpkin. Drink plenty of water with it and wait. You should be having a bowel movement within the next 24 hours tops. Remember to eat light and drink lots of fluids until the bowel movement. Although pumpkin is not a very high-fiber food, it is extremely efficient at relieving constipation. Pumpkin fiber amount ranges from as little as 0.5 – 1 g of fiber/100 g of raw pumpkin to 1.1 – 2.9 g of fiber/100 g of cooked pumpkin. For constipation relief you can also eat the various types of yellow and orange pumpkin-like winter squash varieties.
Benefit no. 2: Pumpkin for diarrhea
You can eat pumpkin for constipation and diarrhea. The colorful orange fruit is a source of both insoluble and soluble fiber. While insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools, relieving constipation and promoting easy and soft bowel movements, soluble fiber has a gelling effect and binds loose stools, helping relieve diarrhea. But not all pumpkin has the same effect for diarrhea relief as different varieties have a different fiber makeup.
Benefit no. 3: Pumpkin for weight loss
Pumpkin is very low-calorie and a source of fiber, thus a good food to eat for healthy weight loss. In addition to providing a limiting amount of calories, its dietary fiber content makes it a filling and satiating food. Unless what you’re eating is pumpkin pie, you don’t have to worry about pumpkin being fattening. A serving of 100 g of pumpkin has only 20-35 kcal (kilocalories), raw and cooked. A serving of 1 cup (245 g) of pumpkin cooked from fresh has up to 50 kcal, while the same amount of canned pumpkin has 80-85 kcal.
Benefit no. 4: Pumpkin for diabetes
Is pumpkin high or low-glycemic? Depending on the variety, pumpkin glycemic index is around 65-75 which means it is a moderate to high-glycemic food. At the same time, with a content of only 6.5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of raw pumpkin, 5 g of carbohydrates for cooked pumpkin (from fresh) and 8 g of carbs for canned pumpkin, the orange autumn fruit isn’t a too high a source of carbohydrates at all. Moreover, pumpkin contains soluble fiber which delays stomach emptying and glucose absorption into the bloodstream, as well as insoluble fiber which also slows down glucose absorption.
So despite being moderate to high-glycemic, pumpkin doesn’t raise blood sugar levels too much if it’s consumed in limited amounts. So a small serving of cooked pumpkin will have minimal effects on blood sugar, even with diabetes (pumpkin glycemic load is low, 3-4 for a serving of 100 g). Eating it with a source of protein or fat can further help reduce its glycemic effects, but a reasonable intake is what makes pumpkin good to eat even in diabetes. Find out more about the benefits of pumpkin on blood sugar in diabetes.
Benefit no. 5: Pumpkin for skin
What is pumpkin rich in? Vitamin A, of course. The bright orange color of pumpkin is indicative of the presence of antioxidant carotenes with vitamin A activity such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, but also beta-cryptoxanthin, and is especially good for skin health. The carotene antioxidants that get turned into vitamin A following digestion help with skin cell formation and differentiation as well as exert anti-aging effects. A serving of 100 g of pumpkin provides an average of 426 mg of vitamin A (retinol activity equivalent, RAE) from antioxidant carotenes, accounting for roughly 43% of the entire daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Small amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 contribute to skin nutrition and help prevent drys skin and cracks and sores in the skin.
Benefit no. 6: Pumpkin for pregnancy
Pumpkin holds several benefits for pregnant women. First of all, the orange fruit is high in antioxidants with vitamin A activity (alpha and beta-carotene in particular) and promotes the normal development of the baby in the womb. Vitamin A represents an essential nutrient for nursing mothers and their newborn babies. With up to 350 mg of potassium per 100 g and no sodium, pumpkin helps combat high blood pressure during pregnancy. Source of iron and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, it supports energy metabolism and helps combat fatigue and anemia during pregnancy.
More reasons to eat pumpkin
In addition to its benefits for the digestive system, skin, blood sugar metabolism, weight management and pregnancy, here are some more reasons to eat pumpkin. The high vitamin A content of the fruit promotes good vision and eye health and boosts the immune system. Its content of antioxidant carotenes and xanthophylls, vitamin E, manganese and copper contributes to the body’s antioxidant defenses. Pumpkin also holds minor benefits for bones and teeth thanks to small amounts of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Because it’s sodium-free and a good source of potassium, it combats water retention, face puffiness and swollen legs and ankles. Raw pumpkin is even a good source of vitamin C with anti-inflammatory properties and benefits for gums and teeth and the immune system function.