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7 health benefits of pumpkin

Nothing quite says October like pumpkin spice. From pumpkin-flavored lattes to pumpkin-flavored Oreos (yes, that's a thing), it seems as though the flavor, with its infinite possibilities, has taken over this time of the year.

While some may worry about the calories associated with these seasonal cravings — especially Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte which contains more than 7 teaspoons of sugar — there's actually some health benefits to consuming the fruit (no, it's not a vegetable), according to Kathryn Roethel of SFGate.

Here are seven of the ways eating pumpkin can benefit you this holiday season:

It's rich in fiber.

Pumpkin is a low-calorie fruit with no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is also rich in fiber, anti-oxidants and vitamins. According to Web MD, eating foods high in fiber have the power to fill a person up and keep one full longer. Fibrous foods like pumpkin often take longer to chew as well, therefore giving the brain more time to understand that one has eaten enough.

It boosts the immune system.

Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of zinc, which not only helps strengthen the immune system but also leads to better sleep and personal moods, according to Dr. Mercola.

It works as an anti-inflammatory.

Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory aid from the carotenoids found in pumpkin. A study published in Food Research International found that pumpkin seed oil led to a reduction in hypertension and arthritis.

It protects against cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research found that eating foods that are high in dietary fiber, which pumpkin is, can lower the risk of many cancers. The AICR also listed some great tasty ways to spice up pumpkin seeds.

It helps the heart.

Pumpkin seeds are also great for heart health because they contain high amounts of dietary fiber and mono-saturated fatty acids. They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol, particularly the bad LDL cholesterol, as well as diastolic blood pressure levels.

It protects the skin.

Pumpkin contains some of the highest levels of vitamin-A in the vegetable family, as 1 cup of pumpkin contains about 245 percent of a person's daily intake. Vitamin-A is an important antioxidant that can help maintain the stability and integrity of the skin.

It helps maintain sharp eyesight.

Along with keeping one's skin looking lovely, the high amounts of vitamin-A in pumpkin helps keep the eyes functioning properly, too. The National Library of Medicine notes that pumpkin is particularly great at promoting good vision in low lighting.

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