Welcome to Smallflower’s Ingredients Spotlight series! Here, we walk you through the benefits and characteristics of popular ingredients you’re probably seeing pop up in the products you shop for and use. Today our focus is on Pumpkin.
There’s nothing that rings in the autumnal season quite so perfectly as pumpkins. No other plant seems as directly tied to the season as pumpkins do. It doesn’t matter if the leaves are already turning, temperatures dipping, or harvesting happening—if you haven’t had that first pumpkin latte or gone to the pumpkin patch on the hunt for jack-o-lantern materials, it just doesn’t feel like fall.
If you’re as nuts about pumpkin as we are, you’ll be glad to know that pumpkin is useful for more than just pie filling. In fact, it’s packed with a bunch of great vitamins, minerals, and other elements that are beneficial to the body. Read on for an overview for some of the health benefits provided by the stellar squash, as well as some of our favorite pumpkin-possessing products.
About the Plant
Pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America, with the earliest known seeds being dated back to Mexico between 7000 and 5500 B.C. The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word for “large melon” and was first used in the modern sense by American colonists. Though there are many species of pumpkin, they all fall under the family of winter squash. The species most commonly used for eating is different from those used for carving and decoration.
Americans in general don’t eat enough fiber to meet daily recommendations. Adults should be consuming between 20 and 30 grams of fiber each day, but on average we eat around 15. Fiber is a vital nutrient to the body, helping out with digestion, reducing intestinal inflammation, and keeping us feeling full and satisfied longer after meals. Luckily, on average one cup of canned pumpkin contains up to five grams of dietary fiber.
You’ve probably heard of the most famous carotenoids, beta-carotenes, before. Maybe you even know already that these are the compounds that give things like carrots and pumpkins their bright orange hue. In your body, carotenoids transform into vitamin A, which is essential for good eyesight. Pumpkin is rich in the three main carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) along with two more called lutein and zeaxanthin that work as antioxidants to fight damage-causing free radicals.
Acne sufferers, rejoice! Pumpkins and their seeds contain high levels of zinc, which is useful for diminishing blemishes and preventing hormonal breakouts. You can gain these benefits by eating pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, or by applying to the skin, since pumpkin is small enough on the molecular level to be absorbed by the epidermis.
Vitamins & Minerals
As we mentioned before, Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A thanks to carotenoids. Pumpkin also contains vitamin C, which is essential for immune health and helps boost collagen production for healthy skin. You’ll also find vitamin E along with the B-vitamins niacin and folate and minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, and Iron.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AKA AHAs) occur naturally in pumpkin. These acids encourage cell turnover, effectively exfoliating the skin to reveal brighter skin with a more even overall tone. AHAs are a great choice for those looking to combat acne and aging.
Grown in Austria, Sunfood’s raw, organic pumpkin seeds are an heirloom variety prized for their great flavor and nutritional qualities.
by Sunfood Superfoods | $9.99 | Shop Now →