Pumpkin: The Healthy Recovery Superfood for Athletes

Now that the fall season has arrived, pumpkins will quickly start to play a huge role in everyone’s lives. From pumpkin patches, to carving pumpkins, to eating pumpkin seeds, pumpkins are very prevalent in October and November. However, did you also know that aside from being a huge part of Halloween and Thanksgiving, pumpkins are an amazing superfood that athletes can add to their sports recovery fuel? Pumpkin seeds are filled with zinc, iron and fiber--and many more vitamins and benefits. Read on to discover more about the benefits of eating pumpkins!

1. What health benefits can an athlete gain from consuming pumpkin?

There are several different health benefits of pumpkins. These include but are not limited to: boosting the immune system, muscle recovery/strengthening muscles, elevated endurance/stamina, weight loss, a reduction in risks of heart disease, clearer skin/eyes and an improved sleeping schedule.

2. How does pumpkin boost your immune system?

The answer is simple: zinc! Zinc is necessary for fighting off illnesses such as the flu, colds, etc. Additionally, it improves your overall mood and will ensure that you’re performing to the best of your ability. According to this article from Clever Training, “Because athletes sweat more due to their demanding workout schedule, make sure you're making up for the loss of minerals like zinc by getting an extra dose in each day.”

3. How do pumpkins help with muscle recovery?

One word: potassium. One cup of pumpkin contains 400 milligrams of potassium -- Potassium is an athlete’s best friend particularly because of its ability to naturally restore electrolyte levels, keeping overworked muscles properly refueled and protected.

4. How do pumpkins improve skin and vision?

Pumpkins contain Vitamin A -- a vital ingredient when it comes to keeping your skin glowing and your vision sharp and clear (pumpkins also help prevent eye cataracts). The protection of skin is especially helpful for athletes because they are constantly playing outside in various temperatures and they are consistently being exposed to sunlight. Furthermore, a daily cup of pumpkin contains 200% of your Vitamin A requirements, and “while the thought of macular degeneration or eventual blindness may not be at the forefront of your mind, those dreams of running marathons well into your 80s or 90s could be short-lived if you don’t keep eye health in sight.

5. Say goodbye to sleepless nights and hello to a new & improved sleeping schedule!

If you find yourself not getting a full night’s rest and tossing and turning throughout the night, look no further than pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that produces ideal melatonin levels. Healthier melatonin levels lead to better sleep and more energy. 

Pumpkins are clearly extremely beneficial for athletes as well as nonathletes--don’t hesitate to add pumpkin to your daily diet (pumpkin spiced lattes, anyone?), so long as you’re not allergic! The new and improved you will be ready to tackle those cold morning practices and feel good doing it.