If you live in North America, you are likely familiar with the plump, orange orb-like winter squash we call pumpkin.
While this classic autumn squash shows up on front porches as jack-o-lanterns in October and spices up dinner tables as pie at Thanksgiving, pumpkin is so much more than a festive symbol. It’s a powerful plant packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and flavor.
If you aren’t using pumpkin (or the many other types of delicious winter squash) in your fall and winter recipes, here are 6 reasons why you’ll want to start!
6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin
#1 - Supports a strong immune system
Nature has a way of giving us what we need when we need it. So, it’s no surprise that winter squash like pumpkin, acorn squash, kabocha squash, and others are packed with nutrients that boost the immune system to ward off seasonal colds and flu.
Pumpkin’s immune-boosting benefits come from its high levels of vitamins:
Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in many orange plants like pumpkins and carrots. When you eat beta-carotene, the body turns it into vitamin A which is necessary to help fight infections.
Vitamin C is well-known to support the immune system. It works by increasing white blood cell production so you have a stronger immune “army” fighting on your behalf. Vitamin C also helps the immune system work more efficiently to clear away pathogens and heal wounds.
Pumpkin also contains Vitamin E – an antioxidant that helps reduce harmful inflammation to alleviate stress on the immune system.
Want the immune-boosting benefits of pumpkin, without having to eat it every day? Supplement with Dr. Danielle’s Vitamin C + Elderberry Immune Assist.
Try it in: Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Soup for Immunity
#2 - May help you lose weight
Although pumpkin is technically considered a fruit, its nutrient profile is more similar to a vegetable. It is low in calories with only 50 calories per cup, yet still packed with nutrients. It also contains high amounts of both water and fiber which keep you feeling full and satisfied (and maintain healthy bowel movements).
Combine your pumpkin recipes with Dr. Danielle’s Gut Assist Digestive Enzymes to promote a healthy metabolism and effective digestion.
Try it in: Sun-Orange Creamy Soup
#3 - Reduces inflammation for natural pain relief
Pumpkin may help you manage your pain naturally, all thanks to its anti-inflammatory compounds. Inflammation is almost always at the root of pain, especially chronic pain. By enjoying more pumpkin in your daily diet, you can reduce your overall inflammation levels to reduce pain in your joints and muscles.
Both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds contain a wide range of antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, support tissue healing, and prevent future damage. Pumpkin flesh is rich in beta-carotene which reduces inflammation and supports cellular health. Seeds, on the other hand, contain high amounts of magnesium – a critical mineral for reducing inflammation and easing muscle tension.
Eating pumpkin alone, however, will not likely erase your pain instantly. For a more strategic approach, get help from holistic practitioners who can identify and reverse the root cause of your pain. Also consider supplementing with Dr. Danielle’s Joint Assist and Turmeric Curcumin. These two formulas use the power of curcumin to reduce long-standing inflammation that causes chronic pain.
Try it in: Creamy Curried Pumpkin Split Pea Daal
#4 - Improves your eyesight
Like all your organs, the eyes need specific nutrients to function properly. Without them, you may struggle with vision loss, dry eye, or other eye disorders. Thankfully, pumpkin contains many of the key nutrients your eyes need to thrive.
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, the nutrient that turns into vitamin A and supports immunity. But vitamin A has another job: promoting good eyesight. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness and other eye disorders. By eating more foods rich in vitamin A, like pumpkin, you can significantly reduce your risk of vision loss and cataracts.
Along with beta-carotene, pumpkin is also a good source of both lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds support eye health and help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Try it in: Pumpkin with Miso, Kale, & Feta
#5 - Gives you glowing skin
Your skin is your largest organ, yet it often gets overlooked when it comes to health and prevention. That is, until blemishes, redness, itching, and irritation show up and wreak havoc. Eating pumpkin is a great way to support your skin in fall when dryness (and holiday stress) are at their peak.
Pumpkin’s beta-carotene content is one way that it protects your skin. Beta-carotene works like your body’s internal sunblock. This, along with vitamin E, protects your skin against skin damage from UV rays which can damage your skin any time of year.
The vitamin C you get from pumpkins helps promote glowing, healthy skin, too. This vitamin is necessary for collagen production (the protein that keeps your skin strong, resilient, and youthful). And the zinc from pumpkin seeds helps protect the skin’s natural defense barrier and prevent blemishes.
For even better skin support, take Dr. Danielle’s Hair, Skin, and Nails formula daily. This supplement helps your body use the vitamins from pumpkin efficiently while rounding out your skin wellness routine with biotin, choline, and rice phytoceramides.
Try it in: Detox Pumpkin Pie Smoothie while you enjoy a DIY pumpkin face mask
#6 - Improves your heart health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of hospitalization and death in the United States. While heart disease is common, it is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Adding pumpkin to your diet can help you avoid these issues and improve your overall health.
Pumpkin is high in potassium, which is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes and heart disease. It also contains a range of antioxidants that protect the body against LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind). Studies show that eating pumpkin seeds also increases good cholesterol (HDL), especially in postmenopausal women.
Dr. Danielle’s Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplement pairs well with the heart health benefits of pumpkin, giving you added antioxidant and cardiovascular support.
Try it in: Turmeric Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seeds and Pomegranate
Embrace the Power of Pumpkin for a Healthy Fall and Winter
Let’s think outside of the pumpkin pie box (or can) and enjoy fresh pumpkin and all its health benefits this year. Pumpkins are incredibly versatile ingredients with health benefits that support your entire body. Experiment with using different types of pumpkin and winter squash to enjoy a nutritious, delicious, and resilient season!