The Health Benefits of Pumpkins
Pumpkin is a popular vegetable here in Australia, featuring in many of our meals, be it a winter-inspired stew or a more summer-friendly roast. But did you know that pumpkins also come with a host of health benefits? From assisting with better sleep to lowering blood pressures, here’s how pumpkins can help make you a healthier person.
They might help with sleep
If you have difficulty sleeping, eating pumpkins may be able to help. While the causes of sleeping problems such as insomnia can be hard to narrow down from person to person, diet can be a part of it. As a food, pumpkin contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you relax and can make you sleepy.
In addition to this, tryptophan is also believed to play a role in helping your body produce more serotonin, which is linked with increased relaxation and helps in making you feel mentally better. Serotonin is considered so important to our mental well being that the primary focus of antidepressants is to balance serotonin levels.
Pumpkins are packed full of vitamin A, which help promote better vision – especially in dim/low light situations. For those who suffer from the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, pumpkins may help slow the decline of retinal function. It’s important to not take this as a given, but it may help.
Maintain a better appetite
Pumpkins are a rich source of dietary fibre, which means they can make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. This can make them a great food option for people who are trying to lose or better maintain their current weight. By making you feel full for longer stretches of time, pumpkin may help reduce how much you eat overall and, in turn, improve your weight loss/maintenance efforts.
They can help lower blood pressure
While this does relate to a specific part of the pumpkin, pumpkin seed oil has been shown to help prevent hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure) thanks to what are known as phytoestrogens. In one practical study, researchers fed rats a diet supplement containing pumpkin seed oil. The results showed that the oil helped lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure within a 12-week window.