October Surprise: Little-known Health Benefits of Pumpkins

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October Surprise: Little-known Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Fall often brings visions of carved pumpkins resting on porches with flickering candles inside. If you're like most people, you're probably unaware that pumpkins, in their pre-jack-o-lantern form, have some surprising health benefits that could make the orange gourd a delicious and nutritious treat.

Digestion and Weight Loss

While not all that healthy in the form of a pie slathered with whipped cream, pumpkins are rich in fiber, which helps with digestion. Even canned pumpkin is surprisingly low in calories, offering an added weight loss benefit. If you opt for equally healthy ingredients, that pumpkin pie may not be so bad for you after all, as long as you skip the Cool Whip.

Better Sight

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the key antioxidants found in pumpkins that have been linked to helping prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. The orange coloring in pumpkins, from beta-carotene, is converted to vitamin A, which can improve retina clarity.

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Immune System Booster

The massive amounts of vitamin A in pumpkins also acts as an immune system booster. Large doses of this essential vitamin can help protect cells against infections and viruses. The natural oil found in pumpkins offers protection against bacterial and fungal infections.

Youthful Skin

The beta-carotene in pumpkins helps keep your skin safe by blocking harmful UV rays. It's the pulp, however, that can turn back the hands of time in the form of a nutrient-rich face mask. Mix a quarter cup of pureed pumpkin with a tablespoon of honey, an egg and a splash of milk for consistency and you'll be all set.

Cancer Fighter

Research suggests that beta-carotene may help fight prostate and lung cancer. Vitamins A and C in pumpkins are powerful antioxidants that can protect healthy cells from free radicals, or unstable molecules responsible for the cell damage linked to cancer. If this isn't enough good pumpkin news for you, there's recent research suggesting diabetics may also benefit from a diet that includes pumpkins. It's believed that certain compounds in pumpkins may improve glucose tolerance and reduce blood sugar levels. While there's nothing wrong with carving up pumpkins for Halloween, it might be time to consider stashing a few away for use in your cooking and baking efforts, too.

About the author: Seth Gowdy is the Sales Manager for Pivot Insurance and holds multiple insurance and securities' licenses. He has been part of the financial services industry for nearly 20 years. In his free time he enjoys being outdoors fishing, hiking, and geocaching with his wife and two children. Seth most enjoys helping clients with Pivot’s customized process and needs' calculators. You can reach Seth at 1-800-651-1953 or sgowdy@pivot.com.

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