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It's that time of year: pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin spice lattes for breakfast. The squash of the season is packed with powerful benefits, so be sure to incorporate it into your diet, though there are healthier ways than coffee syrups. The health benefits of pumpkin include antioxidant and mood- and immunity-boosting properties. Be sure to store your pumpkin in a cool and dark place before cutting it, where it should last up to two months. Use this tasty winter squash in baking to replace butter, or in smoothies for an extra health boost.

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1. Regulates Blood Pressure

Pumpkin is packed with fiber, potassium and vitamin C, all factors in supporting heart health. Potassium helps treat hypertension or high blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of stroke and helps prevent the bones from losing muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass keeps weight stable, which is an effective way of regulating blood pressure fluctuations. One study suggested consuming pumpkin seed oil as a supplement helps reduce diastolic blood pressure by 7% and increases good cholesterol by 16%. Another found the nitric oxide in pumpkin has a positive impact on heart health.

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2. Helps Maintain Blood Sugar

Eating pumpkin seeds or drinking pumpkin juice can help reduce blood sugar levels. Insulin and glucose are important for regulating magnesium metabolization. As such, magnesium depletion is not uncommon in people with type 2 diabetes. The high levels of magnesium in pumpkin seeds may have positive effects on type 2 diabetes. One study found men and women who ate diets rich in magnesium were 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. An animal lab study examined the effect of flaxseed and pumpkin seed combined. It suggested the mixture could hemp prevent diabetic complications.

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3. Increases Fiber Intake

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber, providing about five grams per ounce. Canned pumpkin is also high in fiber. A diet containing sufficient amounts of this nutrient can improve digestion, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Eating a high-fiber diet can also help prevent weight gain because it keeps you feeling fuller longer, and packs your body with phytonutrients that help sweep out toxins. Incorporating foods high in fiber can even help produce healthy gut bacteria, or prebiotics, which are essential for maintaining a healthy gut flora.

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4. Improves Sperm Quality

Pumpkin contains 50% of the recommended daily amount of zinc, an essential mineral that plays a role in scavenging reactive oxygen. One study suggests a significant relationship between inadequate zinc and low-quality sperm. Since pumpkin is a rich source of zinc, it may help improve sperm quality. The antioxidants in pumpkin seeds can contribute to healthy testosterone levels. One study found men with inadequate zinc intake had lower testosterone concentrations. An easy way to incorporate pumpkin seeds? Add them to your oatmeal, yogurt, or salad.

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5. Aids in Weight Loss

Pumpkin is often overlooked as a low-carb, high-fiber option. One cup of pumpkin contains only eight grams of carbs and has three grams of fiber. This is enough to ward off munchies between meals, especially in the mornings. Try mixing pumpkin with your oatmeal and adding a pumpkin spice blend -- this is a delicious way to stay full until lunch time. A fiber-rich diet helps shed weight more quickly, in a healthier manner than restricting foods.

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6. Helps Decrease Risk of Cancer

Pumpkin, similar to butternut squash and carrots, contains plenty of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps fight diseases such as cancer. Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of plant sterols, which are linked to fighting off cancer, as well. One study suggests consuming pumpkin seeds regularly can play a role in preventing and treating breast cancer. Though the evidence is somewhat contested, phytoestrogens such as pumpkin seeds may help prevent hormone-dependent tumors. Animal studies suggest they could keep breast cancer at bay.

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7. Improves Prostate Health

Pumpkin seeds are a popular folk remedy for men’s health issues. Studies suggest a combination of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil can safely and effectively protect the prostate from certain issues such as prostatic hyperplasia. One study examined the effects of a dietary supplement that contains pumpkin seeds and found it has a promising natural complex and the potency to inhibit prostate cancer.

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May Treat Hair Loss

Pumpkin seed oil may help treat hair loss in men. One study found people treated with pumpkin seed oil had an average increase in hair count of 40% after six months of treatment. Magnesium can also aid hair growth (and inadequate levels can cause hair loss) by preventing calcium buildup on the scalp that can clog the hair follicles and cause hair to fall out. A single ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 75% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.