Pump It Up
Improve your skin health with seasonal pumpkin
Ah, there’s nothing like indulging in seasonal fall favorites. Cozy sweaters, crunchy leaves, spiced ciders, and of course, the reigning champion of all things autumn—pumpkin. It’s pretty much impossible not to get sucked into the pumpkin craze each year with tantalizing treats everywhere you look, but we’re not here to talk about delicious desserts or spiced lattes. Did you know you can use the powerful vitamins and antioxidants in pumpkin to treat your skin as well? That’s right, just when you thought the fall favorite couldn’t get any better!
A Free Radical Fighter
Vitamin A is excellent at repairing skin, and it’s found a-plenty in pumpkin. With their bright orange color, pumpkins are rich in carotenoids—a type of Vitamin A commonly found in fruits and vegetables—which your body breaks down into retinol. Although free radicals such as UV rays break down the skin’s elasticity and inhibit its ability to repair itself, retinol packs a punch by repairing damaged cells. Sure, you can always take Vitamin A supplements, but why not get a little extra boost straight from the gourd this season?
Collagen Starts With C
Moving down the alphabet, pumpkins are also chock-full of Vitamin C, which is good for your body in many ways besides helping ward off a cold. As we age, our bodies naturally slow down the production of collagen, which helps keep our skin firm, plump, and elastic.
Since Vitamin C is a key ingredient in collagen production, not getting enough makes it more difficult for your body to produce collagen, as well as maintain muscle and bone health. So while citrus fruits might be your go-to for Vitamin C, remember that pumpkin is also an excellent source. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin is packed with nearly 20 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.
Minerals On My Mind
While vitamins are a big part of staying healthy, minerals are nothing to sneeze at. One particular mineral found in pumpkin is zinc. There’s a lot more to zinc than its potential ability to shorten the duration of a cold. In fact, there’s a lot to get excited about from a skin health perspective. Zinc is known to repair skin like a pro. Not only does it aid in cell regeneration, it can be used to treat inflammation. Skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and even dandruff may be curbed by the ingestion of zinc. Zinc is even known to help reduce acne flare-ups by moderating the amount of sebum produced by the skin. Talk about one powerful mineral, huh?
Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber, which is not only good for digestive health but for beauty as well. A diet with a good amount of fiber ensures that our bodies effectively rid themselves of waste and toxins. When the digestive system is run down, it can manifest as tired-looking, sallow skin.
Finally, don’t forget the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are packed with as many vitamins and minerals as the pulp. Not only do they make a tasty snack, they boost your beauty factor by aiding in the growth of glossy, healthy hair. Simply rinse off the seeds you scrape from the pulp, soak them in a bowl of salted water for a few hours, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees until seeds are cooked through.
It’s all too easy for our skin to dry out as the temperature winds down in the colder months. Here’s a simple brightening pumpkin face mask to replenish thirsty skin:
- 2 tablespoons organic pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon raw honey
- ½ teaspoon milk
Mix together and apply to clean face in small, circular motions. Let it sit 10 to 20 minutes then rinse with lukewarm water. Follow up with the rest of your skincare routine and moisturizer, and revel in your soft, nourished, hydrated skin!
Tip: For extra thickness and exfoliation, add 1 tablespoon oatmeal to the mix.
Hooray for Puree!
For a touch of homemade goodness this season, don’t reach for store-bought canned puree for your recipes. It’s actually quite easy to make, and all you need is a fresh pumpkin and hot water. Here’s how:
- Cut the pumpkin into chunks, removing the seeds and peel.
- Bring water to a boil and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until the pumpkin has become soft and tender.
- Drain and let cool completely.
- Mash or puree and store for later.
If not used right away, the puree will be freshest up to three days in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer. Happy pureeing!
By Audrey Ashe