As fall approaches, the pumpkin patches fill up with families looking to pick and carve the perfect jack o lantern. But as it turns out, there might be more smiles in store than just the one on the pumpkins. Why? Because this hearty round squash actually has some surprisingly big health benefits for your oral hygiene.
Is Pumpkin a Fruit?
While you might think of them as veggies, pumpkins are actually fruits. They are thought to have originated somewhere in Central America, but they are now grown worldwide, from China to Spain and beyond. They were a big part of the native diet across the Americas due to their large size and abundant flesh.
However, as we’ll see in this article, there may have been more motivation for this pumpkin consumption than just a full belly…
Health Benefits of Eating Pumpkin
Pumpkin is packed full of potent nutrients, including phytoconstituent compounds ranging from flavonoids to alkaloids to linoleic acids. According to various studies, this gives pumpkins powerful anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties. But that’s not all. As more research is conducted, more benefits keep showing up. For instance...
Pumpkin oil has been shown to help fight infections, including those that are fungal, viral, and bacterial in origin. Plus, due to its high zinc content, it may also help us recover from the common more quickly.
Pumpkin is high in fiber, so it can help us feel full faster while slowing down our digestion. Like cucumber, pumpkin is 90% water, so it keeps you hydrated as well.
Pumpkin Beta Carotene
Like carrots, the orange in the pumpkin’s skin comes from beta-carotene. When introduced to the body, we convert this valuable pigment into Vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. Beta-carotene is also linked to a reduced risk of some cancers, including prostate cancer.
Is Pumpkin Good for Diabetics?
Diabetics who introduce pumpkin to their diet often display an increase in serum insulin levels as well as improved glucose tolerance and decreased glucose levels in the blood.
Pumpkin and Oral Health
Pretty impressive, right? Well, there’s more. As promised, we’re also going to detail the specific ways that pumpkin can benefit your oral health.
Pumpkin & Anemia
The extremely high iron content of pumpkin seeds is essential to preventing anemia, which can seriously impact the overall health of oral tissue. A regular supply of iron is also essential to keeping your gums and tongue healthy.
Pumpkin Magnesium & Tooth Enamel
Pumpkin is rich in magnesium, which works with calcium to build tooth enamel that is highly resistant to decay.
Pumpkin & Vitamin C
Good old Vitamin C can be found in tons of fruits and veggies, and pumpkin is no exception. As you may already know, this essential nutrient is key to fighting inflammation and infection or oral tissues.
Pumpkin, Vitamin A & Gingival Health
We already discussed Vitamin A in the last section, but did you know that this nutrient is vital to gingival health? It also contributes to saliva flow, which helps keep the mouth free of bacteria buildup.
Pumpkin & Zinc
That high zinc content we talked about also plays a big part in preventing plaque buildup and healing soft tissue damage.
Pumpkin & Fiber
Lastly, let’s talk about all that delicious fiber. For instance, did you know that fiber can help stimulate saliva production? As already discussed, saliva is key to preventing bacteria buildup in the mouth, which is the primary cause of tooth decay.
BONUS: Pumpkin Seed Oil Can Help Treat Mouth Ulcers & Fever Blisters
Not everyone is familiar with the term aphthous stomatitis, also known as RAS, but these mouth ulcers (fever blisters) actually affect around 20% of the population. They are usually small, and heal within a few weeks. However, sometimes more significant ulcers appear, which can take more than a month to heal up and leave unsightly scars.
Pumpkin Oil Oral Health Benefits
However, a 2017 study into pumpkin oil’s ability to affect oral health found that it was particularly effective in both healing RAS and preventing the recurrence of ulcers. Perhaps more telling, was that this efficacy was proven on subjects who had previously seen no benefit from conventional therapy. Participants were asked to apply pure pumpkin seed oil to the ulcers twice a day for three months. Just four days after treatment started, 3% of patients saw significant improvement. However, after eight days, 94% of patients described the same results! Best of all, no side effects were reported throughout the entire study.
Pumpkin Nutrition Conclusion
Pumpkin is rich in minerals, vitamins, and essential nutrients, as well as chemicals that have some amazing consequences for general and oral health. But before you reach for one of those sugary spiced lattes, you need to remember that only real, whole pumpkin and pumpkin seeds will allow for any of these benefits.
Not a fan of the flavor? We recommend you get creative with some pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin hummus, or roasted, sugared pumpkin seeds. You’ll not only learn to love the taste, but the countless health benefits of pumpkin as well.