4 Health Benefits Of Pumpkin That Make PSL Season So Much Sweeter

Even though it's still sweltering outside in many parts of the country and kids are just now starting to go back to school, on Aug. 28, Starbucks released the long-awaited harbinger of fall: the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Whether you can't get enough of the trendy drink or aren't quite on the PSL bandwagon, you've probably wondered at some point how much pumpkin is actually in the latte. That's still yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure: The health benefits of pumpkin are no joke.

In my house growing up, pumpkin-carving season also meant harvesting all of the good stuff that's on the inside of the gourd. While I can enjoy some nice roasted pumpkin, what I really love are the seeds on the inside. Baked with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt, they turn into one of the most delicious, savory, crunchy treats I can think of. Luckily, pumpkin seeds aren't just the perfect tasty snack; they also provide a whole host of health benefits that support almost every part of your body.

So the next time you indulge in a big hunk of chocolate bark studded with pumpkin seeds, you'll be sure you're doing these four awesome things for your body.

It Balances Your Blood Sugar

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Because the creamy orange gourd is high in fiber, Chinese and integrative medicine expert Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Elite Daily in an email that it's great for keeping your blood pressure steady. According to Medical News Today, this has a lot to do with all the fiber in pumpkin: The outlet says that one serving of cooked, fresh pumpkin contains three grams of fiber, and the canned version has more than seven grams. Since your recommended daily fiber intake is about 25 grams, adding a sweet little side of pumpkin to your meal can go a long way toward meeting your daily nutrition goals.

Pumpkin Also Sharpens Your Eyes

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Much like carrots or sweet potatoes, this orange food is also high in beta-carotene, which, Dr. Trattner tells Elite Daily, is great for keeping your eyes healthy.

Apparently, beta-carotene can also support many other parts of your body, because according to Dr. Trattner, the red-orange pigment also improves your brain, cognitive, and lung health. What can't this magical food do?

It Boosts Your Immunity, Too

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With fall approaching, a batch of pumpkin seeds might be a great way to ward off the yucky effects of flu season so that you don't waste a couple of precious autumn days suffering in bed. "Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which boosts the immune system," Dr. Trattner tells Elite Daily. In fact, in a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Science, researchers tested the effects of a flax-and-pumpkin-seeds mixture on 40 rats, and saw both anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting results. And yes, the researchers assured in their study that the seeds would have a similar effect on humans.

Pumpkin Supports Your Menstrual Cycle

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According to Dr. Trattner, pumpkin seeds give your body a boost of estrogen, and are therefore used in something called seed cycling. If you're not familiar with the trend, Trattner explains that seed cycling is a practice in which you use edible seeds — like pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower, etc. — to help balance out your hormones and ease PMS symptoms. "Seed cycling creates more balance in a woman’s body by choosing seeds for their specific properties during the menstrual cycle," she tells Elite Daily. For instance, as wellness blogger Lee From America wrote in a July 2018 post, while pumpkin seeds boast benefits like high zinc levels, sunflower seeds contain something called selenium, which is said to be good for balancing out your hormones (FYI, the research on seed cycling, specifically, is sort of scant, and mostly anecdotal).

Now, if you're anything like me, your period self might not immediately think of pumpkin as a great snack, but maybe look for a dark chocolate pumpkin seed bar to boost both your estrogen and your mood.