Halloween is synonymous with witches, ghosts and all things spooky. But did you know it may also be the world’s healthiest holiday – well at least as far as the pumpkin is concerned… that’s fresh pumpkin by the way… although a sweet treat of American pumpkin pie flavoured with classic pumpkin spice is rather tempting!
According to legend the tradition of carving faces into vegetables goes back to Celtic times and the pumpkin itself has been a symbol of Halloween since Irish immigrants arrived in America. But while all this is fascinating stuff, it doesn’t shed much light on the health benefits of Pumpkins and why, in fact, you should be eating them long after you’ve taken down the fake cobwebs and removed your warts… also fake we hope!
In fact, pumpkins are so good for you when the trick and treaters come-a-knocking, you really should offer them a slice instead of chocolate or sweets (note we can’t guarantee this will not result in a soaking).
So why are pumpkins so good for you? We asked Dr Seth Rankin, a former NHS Commissioner and founder of London Doctors Clinic, to share his six reasons with us…
1. Vitamin A means sharper vision
Just 100g of pumpkin provides you with an astonishing 170% of your vitamin A requirement. Beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the body, gives pumpkins their bright orange colouring. It is essential to keep your eyes healthy and helps the retina absorb light, particularly in dark conditions. This will be very handy as we enter into those long winter nights.
2. Tryptophan boosts your mood
Pumpkins can boost your mood too – and that has nothing to do with the face that’s been carved on them. They are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is important in creating the mood-boosting chemical serotonin. Serotonin is also important in the regulation of sleep, so pumpkins may aid a good night’s rest.
3. Phytosterols for a healthy heart
Heart health is crucial to everyone at any age. Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols which are thought to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) in your body, and can benefit you long term if incorporated into a healthy and low-fat diet.
4. Good for your immune system
As the colder weather approaches make sure you eat enough pumpkin to ward off colds or viruses. The big dose of vitamin A provided, as well as the vitamin C, will help your immune system to fight infections.
5. Fibre means weight loss
You don’t just have to hit the gym to lose weight – have some pumpkin. Pumpkins have 0.5g of fibre per 100g. Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive system and ensuring regular bowel movements. It has the added benefit of making you feel fuller for longer, so you are less tempted to snack between meals.
6. Look younger
Yes, you have read that right. Eating pumpkin can make you look younger. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, so as well as helping your eyes, it protects your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So put down the moisturizer and pick up a pumpkin.
Have a happy and healthy Halloween!