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Athlete’s Superfood: Why Pumpkin Is Great

Eating Well Organic

Athlete’s Superfood: Why Pumpkin Is Great

Pumpkin is an often-overlooked superfood that is chock-full of vitamins and minerals to boost athletic performance. Vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium are just some of the nutrients you can get from the big orange athlete's superfood.

Real pumpkin options like fresh pumpkin puree or roasted pumpkin seeds are the best options due to less food processing. Athletes like basketball players can consume pumpkin dishes and beverages for athletic muscle recovery.

Try to avoid unhealthy options like canned pumpkin pie filling. Instead of highly processed pumpkin spice lattes, find more reasons to love pumpkin spice with healthy choices like instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and energy bars.

Does Pumpkin Qualify as an Athlete’s Superfood?


Pumpkins are probably most famous as Halloween Jack-o’-lanterns and the main ingredient of an autumn pie. Can they also boost sports performance as an athlete's superfood?

Athletes must consume the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients like vitamins and minerals.

In recent years, “superfoods” have been trending among nutritionists. The big question, nonetheless, is whether or not pumpkin qualifies as a superfood.

The term “superfood” typically refers to foods with high nutrient contents. Some examples include:

    • Vitamins

    • Minerals

    • Antioxidants

    • Healthy fats

    • Plant-based nutrients


Superfoods tend to be real or whole foods. Interestingly, scientists and dieticians do not use the term. In addition, no standard criteria define superfoods.

It’s also important to note that no “perfect” superfood exists. The best approach is to eat a wide variety of raw or minimally processed foods, including:

    • Protein

    • Whole grains

    • Fruits or vegetables

    • Dairy

    • Healthy fat


Pumpkin is considered a natural fruit because it has seeds. It has a wide range of nutrients, including:

    • Vitamin A

    • Vitamin C

    • Vitamin K

    • Potassium

    • Copper

    • Manganese

    • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)


These are all key nutrients that you need in your everyday diet, especially if you’re an athlete. Combining pumpkin with other natural foods can help maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Which Nutrient Is Highest in Pumpkin?


Vitamin K (potassium) contains the highest RDA percentage. One cup of boiled and strained pumpkin contains 564mg.

The human body stores vitamin K in various parts, including the:

    • Liver

    • Pancreas

    • Heart

    • Brain

    • Bones


This so-called “clotting vitamin” for blood clotting may also help older adults maintain strong bones, making it an invaluable althete's superfood.

Pumpkin’s Numerous Health and Fitness Benefits


The flesh and seeds of this winter squash are high sources of:

    • Carbohydrates

    • Vitamins

    • Minerals

    • Enzymes

    • Fiber


If you’re an athlete, the top benefits of pumpkin include:

Weight Loss as an Athlete's Superfood


Are you a sports players who wants to slim down this season? If so, you should consider pumpkin. It’s a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that’s lower in sugars and carbs versus other fruits. Another reason many consider it an athlete's superfood.

Pudding, soups, and smoothies are just some of the options that can satisfy your sweet tooth without causing calories to spike. Select less-processed options to minimize calories and additives.

Healthy Skin


What’s the connection between skin and sports? Pumpkin’s high vitamin A content helps keep skin healthy. This feature may help protect the body’s largest organ from the elements including:

    • Ultraviolet (UV) rays

    • Cold temperatures

    • Winds


Vitamin A can provide such protection by moisturizing skin and boosting the skin’s immune system.

Faster Muscle Recovery


Pumpkin is high in vitamin K and potassium, like bananas. The main benefit of the big squash is that it’s lower in carbs and sugar.

Pumpkin is also a natural food for restoring the body’s electrolytes, including essential minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium. An electrolyte imbalance can cause symptoms like weak muscles that could reduce athletic performance.

Strong Immune System With an Athlete's Superfood


Zinc is a key mineral in pumpkin seeds that can protect your body from illness. You can thus avoid missing practices and competitions. A stronger immune system can help fight off fatigue, colds, and flu.

Another reason athletes need to replenish their zinc levels is due to heavy sweating while training or competing. This process depletes your nutrients, such as minerals, which must be replaced with this or other athlete superfoods.

Improved Sleep Quality


The National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep. It’s especially vital for athletes who need to recover from workouts, practices, and games.

The way pumpkin can help you catch more Z’s might be surprising. Pumpkin seeds contain a particular amino acid known as tryptophan. This protein-building block can produce the hormone melatonin.

The brain produces this “sleep hormone” when the body is exposed to darkness at night. Boosting your hormone levels, therefore, can help you get a good night’s sleep.

Better Heart Health by Eating Athlete's Superfood


A healthy heart is critical for athletes to optimize athletic performance. Studies show that nutrients in pumpkin, including vitamin C and potassium, may promote heart health.

For instance, research shows that high potassium intake seems to lower blood pressure and the risk of stroke.

Pumpkin’s high antioxidant level might also protect the body from “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. That may, in turn, lower your risk of heart disease.

Eye Health


A common misconception is that vitamin A improves vision. Instead, vitamin A is a key nutrient for boosting overall eye health.

Pumpkin is classified along with other foods like carrots and sweet potatoes as food high in vitamin A. An indicator it should be classed as an athlete's superfood.

Studies showed that vitamin A may help prevent eye problems like macular degeneration. This eye disease results from a thinning of part of the retina known as the macula.

Just one cup of pumpkin seeds can provide two times the daily recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A.

Pumpkin offers a cornucopia of many healthy options ranging from creamy smoothies to crunchy seeds. It’s easily one of the most athlete-friendly superfoods that can be much healthier than pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

References



    1. Nutrition and healthy eating


https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/pumpkin/faq-20058106

    1. Raw pumpkin nutritional value


https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Pumpkin%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html

    1. Vitamin A and skin health


https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-A

    1. Raw banana nutritional value


https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Bananas%2C_raw_nutritional_value.html

    1. What are electrolytes?


https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/electrolytes.html

    1. Electrolytes - what are they?


https://www.roswellpark.org/cancertalk/201808/electrolytes-what-are-they-what-happens-if-you-dont-have-enough

    1. Zinc


https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/

    1. LC-MS/MS-based profiling of tryptophan-related metabolites in healthy plant foods


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024187/

    1. Melatonin synthesis and function


https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2019.00249/full

    1. Vitamin C and heart health


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5000725/

    1. Potassium intake and risk of stroke in hypertensive and non-hypertensive women in the Women’s Health Initiative


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175295/

    1. Effect of natural food antioxidants against LDL and DNA oxidative changes


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6211048/

    1. Vitamin A beneficial for the eyes, just not for preventing myopia


https://www.aoa.org/news/clinical-eye-care/health-and-wellness/vitamin-a-good-for-the-eyes?sso=y

    1. 5 health benefits of pumpkin


https://lifelineconnections.org/five-health-benefits-of-pumpkin/

    1. Superfoods


https://familydoctor.org/superfoods/

    1. Vitamin K


https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002407.htm

    1. Macular degeneration


https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/locations/caledonia/services-and-treatments/optometry/eye-conditions-and-diseases/macular-degeneration

    1. Pumpkin nutrition


https://web.extension.illinois.edu/pumpkins/nutrition.cfm

    1. How much sleep do we really need?


https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

    1. What is melatonin?


https://familydoctor.org/melatonin/

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