Sure, Halloween and the fall season are upon us, but all those pumpkins are not just for carving snaggle-toothed faces or placing near our mums. Turns out, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds have a host of health benefits. So, don’t be too fast to drive by that pumpkin patch. Buy some pumpkins, and watch everything from your heart health to your sex life improve!
1. Improved Heart Health: Just a mere 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains a significant amount of magnesium, fiber and antioxidants vital to keeping your heart functioning properly. Magnesium helps keep the heart pumping and relaxes blood vessels, and may help prevent sudden cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association even calls pumpkin seeds a “. . . portable, healthy, high-fiber snack star” heralding its healthful benefits on their website.
2. Cancer Prevention: Pumpkins are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, believed to help individuals who include it in their diet become less likely to develop certain cancers. Dr. Steven G. Pratt, author of the New York Times bestselling SuperFoods Rx, is a believer in the relationship pumpkins’ carotenoids and antioxidants have with cancer prevention. He notes that in one 8-year study involving 63,257 adults in Shanghai, China, those who ate the most beta-cryptoxanthin—an orange-red carotenoid found in pumpkins—had a 27 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer.
3. Relaxation and Improved Sleep: Tryptophan, an amino acid often talked about for its ability to convert to serotonin and then melatonin (a.k.a the “sleep hormone”), is found in pumpkin seeds. It’s recommended to consume them a few hours before bedtime, eating them in conjunction with a carbohydrate to optimize results. According to a white paper put out by the National Sleep Foundation, more than 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Their review of a survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) revealed that ” . . . two out of every five drivers (41%) admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point.”
4. Better Skin: In addition to a variety of amino acids and minerals, pumpkins contain vitamins A, C and E which act as healing properties for your skin. Dermatologist Ted Lain of Steiner Ranch Dermatology and Pflugerville Dermatology in Austin, Texas says pumpkins are “really high in vitamins A, C and zinc,” adding that “vitamin A is related to Retin-A which we use all the time on the skin to build collagen.” Dr. Lain suggests using pumpkin as a face mask to help with fine lines and wrinkles.
5. Improved Libido: In a study conducted by Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, the combination of pumpkin and lavender scent aroused men more than any of the other scents tested. Blood flow increased 40% when men inhaled that particular scent. How’s this health related? Numerous studies have linked sexual intercourse with helping build the body’s immune system, reducing the frequency of our bouts with the common cold, and lowering stress levels as well as blood pressure.
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