If you were to look at the nutritional content of pumpkin, you’d be convinced this is a pretty impressive gourd. Seriously. It’s packed with Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that leads to better eyesight (deficiency is the leading cause of nonaccidental blindness) and better immune function. Vitamin A deficiency is also associated with decreased resistance to infection, which means low intakes of Vitamin A (and other antioxidants) can easily sideline training. This is because athletes in heavy training are already at risk of supressed immune function, which can lead to upper respiratory tract infections.
A daily intake of 900ug retinol equivalents (RE) for men and 700ug for women is recommended, and a 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin easily supplies 100 per cent (or more) of your daily need. In addition to being rich in Vitamin A, pumpkin is also rich in dietary components such as certain alkaloids and flavonoids, as well as palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (like inflammation-fighting omega-3s).
These hard-to-come-by components mean that the nutrient-dense pumpkin offers plenty of important health benefits, including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. And the great news for runners; they’re an excellent source of electrolytes and carbohydrates, which together can keep you hydrated and help you to avoid hitting that mid-run wall.
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, 1/4 cup
- Kilojoules: 800
- Carbohydrate: 4g
- Fat: 14.5g
- Protein: 9g
- Fibre: 2g
- Micronutrients (vitamins and electrolytes): 2.4mg iron, 160mg magnesium, 350mg phosphorus, 230mg sodium (more if the seeds are salted)