Pumpkins are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, and beta-carotene. Its nutrient content, however, depends on whether it’s fresh or canned.
Canned pumpkin has higher levels of calories, carbs, and fiber as opposed to fresh. And, if you boil your raw pumpkin, it’ll have even fewer carbohydrates.
Health Benefits of Pumpkins
Being high in beta-carotene as well as other vitamins and minerals helps pumpkin provide the following health benefits:
- Improves vision
- Strengthens immunity
- Keeps you full for a longer
- Regulates blood pressure
- Supports heart health
What About Diabetes?
One PIP published in “Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry,” showed that nicotinic acid and trigonelline, components of pumpkin, improve insulin resistance and slow down the progression of diabetes in rats.
Another lab study published in “The Journal of Medicinal Food” suggests that polyphenols in pumpkin ( a type of antioxidant) could help reduce blood glucose levels.
The “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” discovered that pumpkins contain protein-bound polysaccharides which help improve glucose tolerance and reduce blood glucose levels in rats. Still, more research is needed to prove these effects on people.
A Chinese animal study showed that pumpkin extract can help people with diabetes keep their blood glucose under control, by providing insulin-like effects.
The animals with drug-induced diabetes had greater secretion of insulin, lower blood sugar levels, and more insulin-producing beta cells than those which didn’t get pumpkin extract.
One of the study’s authors, Tao Xia, says this extract is equally good for those with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Nutrients of Pumpkin and Their Effect on Blood Glucose
The high levels of vitamin C in pumpkin help stimulate insulin in the body. This, in turn, helps to manage our diabetes.
Moreover, pumpkin seeds are high in unsaturated fats and iron which support heart health. This is important as the heart is one of the most common organs affected by diabetes.
Also, pumpkin seeds and pulp contain plant compounds that help tissues and intestines absorb glucose, thus balancing the liver glucose levels.
People with diabetes often experience endothelial dysfunction by reducing the nitric oxide levels in the body. However, folic acid helps reverse this, and since pumpkin is rich in folic acid, it means it’s beneficial for people with diabetes.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
The glycemic index shows how much and how fast some food increases blood glucose levels.
The glycemic load, on the other hand, includes the glycemic index and carb content of a serving of food, giving a more precise estimate of how much it’ll impact your blood sugar levels.
Glycemic Load of Pumpkin
- Half a cup of canned pumpkin or mashed cooked pumpkin – 3
- Half a cup of raw pumpkin cubes – 2
- 4 ounces of pumpkin – 4
It seems pumpkin has a low glycemic load so we can safely include it in our diet.