The Beauty Benefits of Pumpkin
’Tis the season for all things pumpkin. From Halloween through Thanksgiving, and on till Christmas, pumpkins can be found almost everywhere you turn. Although the Pumpkin-Spiced Latte from Starbucks may not be the healthiest source from which you get your pumpkin (note: it’s not!), I do urge you to take advantage of this super-food while it’s in season. So, for all of you would-be fairy-princesses out there, dressing up for Halloween (yes, we ALL should still be dressing up), be aware that Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother may have been on to something truly “magical” by choosing this amazing super-food for Cinderella’s carriage.
The health benefits of pumpkin are numerous. This colorful gourd promotes good vision and a healthy heart, lowers blood pressure, acts as a cancer-preventative, boosts your immune system, and improves your mood. (Why do you think Jack-o-Lanterns are always smiling?) However, less publicized are the beauty benefits of pumpkin. Yep, that’s right, adding pumpkin to your diet will make you look better. Hooray! Here is why.
- Pumpkin gives you a hefty dose of Vitamin C, which aids in protecting your skin from free radicals that are responsible for skin cancer and wrinkles. Eating foods high in Vitamin C also improves skin’s elasticity, tone, and texture by promoting collagen production.
- Pumpkin is loaded with Carotenoids, the very things that give the gourd its bright orange color, also found in their orange cousins, carrots and butternut squash. More important, once they’re in our bodies, Carotenoids convert to Vitamin A, which helps improve skin texture by actually reversing UV damage. By the way, you can roast cubed pumpkin in the oven just like you would butternut squash and even cooked carrots.
- Pumpkins are loaded with essential beauty minerals. High doses of zinc, for example, are found in pumpkin seeds. Zinc promotes cellular turnover, builds collagen, and fights acne. Potassium helps maintain healthy hair and has been shown to aid in new hair growth. Copper and iron work together to produce red blood cells. In addition, copper creates younger skin (future blog to come); it accelerates the healing of wounds, maintains and builds collagen, and is one of the minerals the body needs in order to produce the antioxidant, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). And pumpkin seeds are very easy to add to your diet: you can home-make them by roasting the raw seeds in the oven until crunchy, add a bit of sea salt to taste, and sprinkle on soups and salads. (Or just eat them by the handful.)
- Pumpkins are a good source of B-Complex Vitamins. These are the vitamins that enhance beauty by promoting healthy skin, hair, and nails. In addition, B-Vitamins protect against free-radicals, which destroy healthy cells and contribute to aging. Finally, these are the vitamins that improve circulation, and, like zinc, contribute to new cell turnover.
- Pumpkin promotes better sleep. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for your post-Thanksgiving, turkey-induced coma. If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that there is a reason why it’s called “beauty sleep” – because those 7 – 8 hours of slumber are necessary for all things related to beauty and health. And trust me, you won’t look or feel as good, if you aren’t getting your much-needed zzzz’s. So, if you are wondering what to sip on as a late-night snack, how about a cup of pumpkin soup? (Recipe to follow.)
- Pumpkin aids in weight loss. Yep. You heard me. Eating pumpkin can make you thinner. Not the pie or the Starbucks special latte, of course, but the actual pumpkin and its seeds. Here’s why: pumpkin (and its seeds) are loaded with fiber. Fiber is our friend when it comes to maintaining that youthful figure, because foods with fiber keep you feeling fuller for longer, so you end up eating less throughout the day.
So there you have it. Six beauty-ful reasons to love this seasonal super-food. Come to think of it, perhaps the Fairy Godmother should have had Cinderella EAT the pumpkin she fetched, instead of turning it into a carriage. Because, folks, you can literally eat your way to better skin, a slimmer waistline, and a more youthful appearance. I call these foods, “pretty foods,” and pumpkin has just made the list. Adding pumpkin to your diet is my version of a modern-day magic wand. (Consider me your anti-aging Fairy Godmother.) Ta-dah!
Please send me your recipes. I’d love to see how YOU are cooking up this super-food. Click here to see my recipe for “Protein Packed Pumpkin Bread.” Yum!