[Guest Post by Vivian Goldschmidt]
Nothing says “autumn” like beautiful, orange pumpkins piled high at farmers markets and grocery stores. Because of their beauty, it’s easy to think of pumpkins as purely decorative. But they are a rich source of many important bone-healthy nutrients.
Pumpkins yield delicious flesh and crunchy, edible seeds, all of which are alkalizing and full of vitamins and minerals that infuse your bones with nutrients they need to thrive.
In fact, the mighty pumpkin is so nutritionally rich, that you should make it a staple all year round. And as we celebrate National Pumpkin Day today, you’ll learn why it’s such a valuable part of your bone-healthy diet and you’ll get a delicious, easy-to-make brownie recipe.
Pumpkins Are Full Of Bone-Building Nutrients
Here are the vitamins and minerals in pumpkins:
Vitamin A – One cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin contains 12,231 IU of this vitamin. There are multiple constituents to Vitamin A, including lutein and various carotenes. Beta-carotene is the best-known of these nutrients. Your body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes healthy liver and kidney function.
Vitamin C* – There are 11.5 milligrams of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in a cup of mashed pumpkin. Vitamin C is crucial for immune system function, and it is necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein that forms the flexible part of bone. Vitamin C is an antioxidant as well, and it actually plays a direct role in bone remodeling by suppressing osteoclasts and stimulating osteoblasts.
Choline* – At 15.2 milligrams per cup, pumpkin flesh is a good source of this little-known B vitamin. Human cell membranes depend on choline for the proper formation of their structural components.
Folate* – Another B vitamin, folate is essential for the metabolism of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, of which your bones are partially composed. Folate is anti-inflammatory, prevents anemia, and is involved in nucleic acid metabolism primarily by producing genetic material from precursors.
Vitamin E – Providing 2 milligrams per cup, which is 10 percent of the US RDA, pumpkin is a good source of this powerful antioxidant/vitamin. Vitamin E helps build muscle tissue, a vital aspect of building bone. Strong muscles are necessary for the proper stimulation of bone growth via exercise.
Calcium* – While many vitamins and minerals work in synergy to produce strong bones, calcium is the primary mineral that comprises bone strength. You’ll find 36.7 milligrams of calcium in one cup of mashed pumpkin.
Magnesium* – A cup of pumpkin provides 22 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral that is every bit as important as calcium in rejuvenating bone. This amazing mineral is a cofactor in more than 300 enzymatic processes, and it regulates a number of vital body functions, such as the protein synthesis and the function of nerves and muscles.
Potassium – One cup of mashed, cooked pumpkin offers 564 milligrams of this powerfully alkalizing electrolyte mineral. Potassium works to balance sodium in the body, correcting the sodium-heavy imbalance so prevalent in industrialized nations today.
Copper*, Manganese*, and Zinc* – These three trace minerals are listed together because they work as a trio to promote healthy bones. Together, they make up the chemical structure of Superoxide Dismutase, a bone-protective antioxidant that is essential for preventing bone loss. Pumpkin flesh contains .2 milligrams of copper and manganese, and .6 of zinc.
Pumpkins contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and zinc.
Pumpkins Are a Rich Source Of Carotenoids
The bright orange color of pumpkins comes from pigment compounds called carotenoids.
The substantial bone-building benefits of carotenoids are attributed to the fact that they are powerful antioxidants that protect bone and the cells responsible for bone remodeling from oxidative damage.1
Beta-cryptoxanthin has been shown to reduce bone-damaging inflammation.2 Lycopene was found to reduce hip fracture rates in a 17-year study that included 576 women, while other carotenoids were not associated with a change in fracture risk.3 This study supports the finding that lycopene reduces bone loss and oxidative stress while it increases antioxidant levels.4
The improvements in eyesight and prevention of age-related macular degeneration found with lutein and zeaxanthin consumption protect bone health by preventing falls and accidents.5 Reduced eyesight directly correlates with an increase in falls and fracture, so anything that protects your vision also protects your bones.6
By reducing inflammation, decreasing oxidative damage and bone loss, and protecting eyesight, the carotenoids found in pumpkin strengthen your bones.
Pumpkins Contain Glycine
Pumpkins are an excellent source of the amino acid glycine, which supports the production of collagen.
Collagen is a primary building block of bone. In fact, collagen makes up almost one-third of our skin, bone, and connective tissue. The bone matrix is composed of 60% inorganic components and 40% organic parts. Collagen makes up about 90% of those organic components.
Collagen is primarily what makes bone flexible and resilient. It provides the adaptability that helps bones to grow and change while staying strong. Without enough glycine, your body can’t produce the collagen your bones need.
Glycine is similarly essential for muscles, particularly for preventing muscle deterioration. The protein in your muscles is composed of amino acids, and glycine is among them.
Muscle mass is critical for bone health because strong muscles are essential to grow new bone, per Wolff’s Law. That’s because the stress that muscles place on bone stimulates the growth of new bone mass.
Here are a few other ways that glycine’s benefits bolster bone health:
- Improved digestion increases the absorption of bone-healthy nutrients
- Improved sleep facilitates bone remodeling that takes place while you rest.
- Increased glutathione prevents oxidative damage that harms bone.
Glycine improves bone health by increasing collagen production, a major building block of bone. It also protects muscle mass, which stimulates bone growth. Additionally, health benefits such as improved digestion, sleep support, and antioxidant function protect your bones.
Pumpkin Seeds Contain Bone-Healthy Minerals And Leucine
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, and Vitamin K, all of which are Foundation Supplements. They also contain leucine, an amino acid necessary for the proper synthesis of protein into muscle tissue.
Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA), which means its molecular structure includes a central carbon atom that is bound to at least three other carbon atoms. There are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are known to increase muscle endurance and strength, and animal studies show striking effects of BCAAs, including leucine, on longevity.7
Out of the three BCAAs, leucine is considered the one directly responsible for muscle tissue synthesis, and it shows promise as a preventer of age-related muscle atrophy. Leucine increases cellular energy by stimulating the production of protein in skeletal muscle tissue, making leucine intake especially important as we age. Maintaining muscle mass is essential for avoiding falls and fractures, and for stimulating the growth of new bone.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for leucine is 2730mg daily for a 150-pound adult. A single ounce of dried pumpkin seeds contains 700mg of leucine. So keep a container handy to use as soup topping, a crunchy salad add-on, or a standalone snack.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of the amino acid leucine, which is essential for proper muscle tissue synthesis. Maintaining muscle mass is important for avoiding falls and for stimulating new bone growth.
A Year-Round Pumpkin Recipe
This delectable brownie recipe incorporates pumpkin puree so that you can get the benefits of this nutritious gourd in your dessert. These brownies are perfect for autumn, but because you can get pumpkin puree year-round, they make a great treat for any season.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon stevia (adjust to taste)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup almond butter
For the topping
- Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and pumpkin spice powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a blender or using a hand mixer, combine the melted and cooled coconut oil with pumpkin puree, almond butter, and vanilla extract until well mixed.
3. Sift the dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips until combined.
4. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until fully combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips to get them evenly distributed in the batter.
5. Pour batter evenly into 8×8 parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool completely and sprinkle the walnuts and pumpkin pie spice over the top. Enjoy!
What This Means to You
Start your year-round love affair with bone-healthy pumpkins today, on National Pumpkin Day.
In Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’ll find creative pumpkin dishes like Curried Pumpkin Bisque and Superb Pumpkin Casserole. And there’s more, because inside Bone Appétit you’ll find over 200 recipes for Breakfast, Smoothies, Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Vegetarian Dishes, and plenty of Main Courses, including Fish, Poultry, and Beef, and even an entire Dessert section.
Additionally, many dishes in Bone Appétit contain ‘Foundation Foods’ so that you can get all their bone-building benefits.
As your knowledge grows, so does your ability to make the best possible choices for your bones, your body, and your future. Keep learning, and keep charting a course for a long and healthy life.
Yours in excellent health,
Vivian Goldschmidt, MA
Save Institute for Natural Health
Here’s How the Save Institute Makes Science-Based Natural Bone-Building Simple:
- The Save Our Bones All-Access Bundle which includes all of our evidence-based natural bone-building programs.
Learn more about the Save Our Bones All-Access Bundle »
- The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is the original evidence-based step-by-step natural protocol used by thousands of Savers from all around the world that reverses osteoporosis and osteopenia without drugs.
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- Bone Appétit includes over 200 bone-healthy recipes plus a 30-day meal planner. It takes the guesswork out of preparing bone-healthy meals that taste great.
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- OsteoCleanse teaches you how to release and flush osteoporosis drugs and other bone-damaging toxins from your system in just seven days. The result: accelerated bone remodeling and stronger, healthier bones.
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