Pumpkins may be closely associated with Halloween jack-o-lanterns and Thanksgiving dessert, but their nutritious pulp and seeds can benefit skin all year round. These large, orange fruits are part of the Cucurbuta family, which includes squash and cucumbers.
Pumpkin pulp is extremely high in vitamin A. One cup of pumpkin pulp provides around 250% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for good vision and supports cell regeneration within the body. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins C and E. Antioxidants fight the free radicals that are produced as a by-product of chemical reactions that take place within the body. By combating free radicals, antioxidants help to delay the deteriorating effects of aging. Pumpkins also contain minerals that are vital for good health, including potassium, copper, and manganese. Flavinoids and carotenoids found in pumpkin can help to reduce inflammation.
Regular consumption of pumpkin pulp helps to maintain healthy skin from the inside out. Pumpkin pulp is extremely low in fat, when cooked without butter or oil. Pumpkins can be boiled or baked, which avoids adding unnecessary fat. Spices, such as curry or rosemary, can be added for extra fat-free flavor. Pumpkin is an extremely versatile fruit. It can be can be served in soup, as a side dish, or baked in to a sweet pie with cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. Pumpkin pie is a traditional dessert often served at the end of a Thanksgiving meal.
Topical application of pumpkin to the skin can deliver beauty benefits. Pumpkins contain natural alpha hydroxy acids and enzymes that eradicate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, boost cellular regeneration, and improve the tone and texture of the skin. Pumpkin can be found as an ingredient in exfoliating body lotions, skin creams, and facial peels. Pumpkin extract is also found in anti-acne products, due to its exfoliating and skin regenerating properties.
Pumpkin seeds contain significant amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of omega-3 can benefit individuals who suffer from a range of diverse conditions, such as arthritis, ADHD, depression, fibromyalgia, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Pumpkin seeds are often included in health products targeted at men as they contain high levels of zinc, which has been shown to improve prostrate health as well as improving bone mineral density. Pumpkin seeds are also a terrific source of copper, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, and manganese.
Pumpkin seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack. To enhance their flavor, salt, cinnamon, or cardamom can be added during roasting. Alternatively, pumpkin seeds can be sautéed and added to salads or chopped and sprinkled over cereal.
Pumpkin seed oil was used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans, particularly for burns and conditions affecting the kidneys and intestines. Pumpkin seed oil has been proven to improve benign prostatic hyperplasia, which causes enlargement of the prostate gland in men. It can also alleviate bladder problems in women. Pumpkin seed oil is best eaten raw, as heating it can adversely affect its nutritional value. Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil can be drizzled over salad. Alternatively, pumpkin seed oil is available as a food supplement from health food stores.
Pumpkin seed oil can be found listed as an ingredient in some skin care products. It appears in skin creams and lotions because it is an effective emollient that hydrates the skin, leaving it supple and flexible. Pumpkin seed oil helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, which can appear on maturing skin.
Perhaps the most fun that can be had with a pumpkin is carving a funny or scary face on it as part of the Halloween entertainment. A section of the top of the pumpkin around the stem should be cut out and set aside. After scooping out the flesh and seeds, which can be saved for culinary use, a design can be drawn on to the front of the pumpkin. The pattern should then be carved out using a sharp knife. Pumpkin skin is thick and tough, so care should be taken during carving. A votive candle can then be placed in to the middle of the pumpkin and the top replaced, making an extremely spooky Halloween decoration.