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Health (and Thyroid) Benefits of Pumpkins – They’re More Than Jack-O-Lanterns

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Health Benefits and Thyroid Benefits of Pumpkins

October is the time of year where it starts cooling down and we begin looking forward to hearty, home-cooked meals to warm us up. Fortunately, this time of year is also marked with a bounty of tasty treats to satisfy our cravings. For those with a thyroid condition there is a particular food that one should look forward to this October. Pumpkins contain an impressive number of nutrients that support the body in many ways including thyroid function. Learning about the many nutrients and benefits offered by pumpkins can help one get the most out of the fall season.

The Power of Pumpkin

Pumpkins make an appearance every year as a festive decoration on porches, stoops, windowsills, and other prominent areas. Unfortunately, people often overlook the powerful nutrients housed in these big, orange beauties. Many people craft fun and frightening Jack-O-Lanterns using these humble vegetables and simply throw out the unused material. Sadly, it is common for people to unwittingly dispose of the bounty of nutrients contained in their festive pumpkin décor.

Pumpkins, and pumpkin seeds, are powerhouses of vitamins and nutrients, making them one of the most beneficial natural food products regarding nutrient value. These bright orange squash contain impressive amounts of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Riboflavin
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Manganese

Additionally, there are other healthful substances to be found in smaller amounts while still having a positive impact on one’s health. The following nutrients can also be found in pumpkins:

  • Vitamin E
  • Thiamin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

Thyroid-Specific Benefits

One of the greatest attributes of pumpkins, aside from its stunning color, is the impressive number of thyroid supporting nutrients it contains. Those with a thyroid condition may benefit from increasing their intake of pumpkin as it contains many nutrients that are often deficient among thyroid patients. Sadly, nutrient deficiencies in thyroid patients are often overlooked by doctors. Therefore, ensuring that one acquires all the nutrients they need is important.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble substance that positively influences cellular hormone receptivity. If a thyroid patient’s cells do not respond to hormones, particular T3, widespread dysfunction can occur. Inadequate levels of Vitamin A can cause one to experience poor metabolic function and other thyroid-related symptoms even if the body is producing appropriate amounts of T3.

Fortunately, pumpkins provide a wealth of Vitamin A. The bright orange color found in pumpkins not only offers an appealing appearance but it also signifies the presence of alpha-carotene. This substance significantly boosts antioxidants and may combat heart disease, cancer, and degenerative effects of aging. Alpha-carotene also converts into a form of Vitamin A known as retinol, which supports healthy vision and immune function. It is theorized that the impressive number of antioxidants found in pumpkin and its seeds may be the main cause of its associated health benefits. The vitamin A found in pumpkin may also support greater hormone receptivity.

Vitamin C

Iodine is a critical part of thyroid function but without Vitamin C, one may be incapable of properly utilizing it. In order to reach the thyroid, iodine must pass through a sort of gate or doorway that is regulated by both Vitamins B2 and C. Thyroid patients who have a Vitamin C deficiency may experience poor metabolic function due to inhibited transport and utilization of iodine. The impressive amount of Vitamin C found in pumpkin can help resolve a deficiency in this area thereby improving iodine usage. Vitamin C is also well-recognized for its ability to improve immune function while also supporting cardiovascular health.

Magnesium

In the United States, it is estimated that about 79% of adults do not get the recommended daily intake of Magnesium. This is a serious problem because magnesium is a critical part of thyroid function. If one experiences a deficiency in this area, widespread dysfunction can occur.

As a necessary portion of multiple enzymes needed for the creation of T4, it is important to maintain proper magnesium levels. Magnesium is also needed for conversion of T4 to T3 making it an even more impactful substance regarding thyroid health and function. Reduced magnesium levels increases the risk of goiter, enlarged thyroid and may cause hypothyroid symptoms such as low energy, poor sleep quality, headache, and difficulty thinking clearly.

In addition to being instrumental for thyroid function, magnesium is needed for over 600 chemical reactions in the body. These involve blood pressure regulation, supporting heart health, strengthening and forming bones, regulating blood sugar, and more. Acquiring enough magnesium through one’s diet can be challenging but by adding pumpkin they can add a substantial amount in a tasty way.

What Else Does Pumpkin Offer?

In addition to the many thyroid-specific benefits of pumpkin, there are other more general attributes to be enjoyed. Pumpkin’s high fiber content can improve gastrointestinal function and support weight loss, the presence of tryptophan in pumpkin and pumpkin seeds may help improve sleep quality, and perhaps most surprising of all is that pumpkin and pumpkin seed consumption can reduce one’s risk of developing certain cancers.

Getting the Most out of a Pumpkin

When people consider eating pumpkin they often think of pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, or a certain “spiced” holiday beverage. Although they may be tasty, these sugary foods mask the true nutritional value found in pumpkins. There are many healthy pumpkin recipes including salads, soups, and casseroles that deliver pumpkin in its more nutrient dense state. One of our favorite pumpkin recipes can be found here. The hearty amount of pumpkin in this dish ensures that one gets a big boost of nutrients while also enjoying a warm, filling, and healthy meal. Getting the wealth of nutrients out of one’s pumpkin purchases this fall is the best way to celebrate the changing seasons while also supporting their thyroid.

Resources

1. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/pumpkins.html

2. http://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/a-chicken-strip-lovers-take-on-health/health-benefits-of-pumpkins

3. http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds#section11

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