Some may say what good of the pumpkin unless…
- - It is for chucking
- - It is for decoration
- - It is for scary faces for Halloween
- - It is for witches
- - It is for fairy tales
- - It is for festivals and competitions
- - It is for painting
- - It is for Thanksgiving
That’s a tricky question for those not familiar with various benefits of the pumpkins.
What exactly is a Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a squash of the family Cucurbitaceae. The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon, which means “large melon”. Scientists did not completely confirm the origin of the pumpkin, yet they agreed that the first pumpkin-related seeds were found in the caves in Mexico around 7000 BC. Some refer to the pumpkin as fruits others as vegetables, but one thing is sure, pumpkins vary in size, color of the skin, and shape. Pumpkins generally weight of 4-6 kg, and those are the Giant pumpkins, though they can reach a weight of over 25 kg. As for the color of the skin, they are usually yellow and orange. Some species of pumpkins can be white, pale green, brown, red and gray. Inside, the pumpkins are hollow with net-resembling the structure of small, usually white, but sometimes green edible seeds.
They were very popular in ancient Greece and among the tribes in North America. Today, pumpkins are widely grown in every country, although Antarctica is the only continent that cannot produce pumpkins.
Nutritional Value of the Pumpkins
This plant is highly nurtured for its agricultural purposes. It is interesting that pumpkin’s nutritive value, especially seeds’ value, increases as they decompose. Pumpkins in generals are high in minerals and vitamins.
Vitamin A – necessary vitamin and natural anti-oxidant for good visual sight, and recommended for the maintenance of the mucus membranes and skin. Here are other important benefits and researches about vitamin A.
Vitamin C – vitamin that is crucial for the immune system and for the reduction of oxidative stress. This antihistamine is also a powerful cure for the common cold. An excellent explanation about its antioxidant activities one can find in the research study from the group of authors called “Vitamin C as an antioxidant: evaluation of its role in disease prevention”,
Vitamin E – vitamin well known as an antioxidant that has an important role in enzymatic activities and neurological functions; Researches show that Vitamin E can help in the treatment of cancer and heart diseases.
Pumpkins, as very low calorie vegetables, are free from fats and cholesterol, while very rich in dietary fiber. They represent an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins: niacin, thiamine, folate, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid. It is important to know that pumpkins are a storehouse of α, ß carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin.
As for the minerals, pumpkin contains:
Calcium – This strong bone builder is important for muscle contraction and neurotransmitter release. Other particular use of calcium is in the period after menopause, because women can lose up to 20 percent of the bone mass.
Potassium and sodium– essential nutrients that maintain the balance of the water in the body
Phosphorus – this non-luminous and non-metallic element is important for kidney function, teeth, bones and muscle contraction. The body contains nearly 1 percent of phosphorus, and though it can be very dangerous, in the combination with other minerals is crucial for the production of the cells and their energy in the body.
Magnesium – main functions of magnesium are to maintain normal blood circulation, to strengthen bones and to relax muscles and nerves. Magnesium can help fight migraines and it can boost memory and learning.
Zinc – Well-known usage of zinc is in the combat common cold, sore throats and other infections. Less known fact is that zinc is important for normal growth of infants and children. Zinc is the protector of the immune system, stabilizer of blood glucose, supporter of neurological functions and stimulator in 100 different enzymes.
Iron – Our body needs iron to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. Lack of iron in the body can result in difficulties with concentration and immunity problems.
Nutrition Value of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, as opposed to pumpkin in general, are high in calories. They are good source of vitamin K, vitamin E, and a group of vitamin B. Seeds contain minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus and iron, but also copper and manganese. L-tryptophan, that is good for sleep and depression, is abundant in the pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin K – vitamin that helps with blood coagulation and protects against osteoporosis
Copper – essential for the production of melanin, myelin and hemoglobin; Together with vitamin C, copper can make a component known as elastin. Copper also acts as antioxidant.
Manganese - helps the body to develop resistance against harmful oxygen-free radicals and infections agents.
Many cultures used pumpkin seed in treatment for different parasites and tapeworms. The studies have shown that seeds can reduce inflammation and prevent kidney stone formation.
Great resource of pumpkin seeds benefits is the E-book “Eating Green and Lean” from Diana Herrington.
Pumpkin as Culinary Specialities
Is there anything else besides pumpkin pie? Of course, because almost every part of the pumpkin is edible: seeds, leaves, fleshy shell, even flowers. How can you prepare pumpkin? Well, for those who are ready to experiment with food, and for those who lack any culinary experience, pumpkin is more than perfect from any other vegetable. Why is that? You can boil, bake, roast, and steam pumpkins. If you like spice food, you should try Indian kadu ka halwa. If you like sweets, you should try Middle East cuisine. Just pick the country, and explore pumpkin food.
As for your own cuisine, do not forget to try pumpkin puree, pumpkin soup and pumpkin salad.
Interesting Facts about Peculiar Pumpkin Usage
Art – Pumpkin have been a great inspiration for many artists and very popular for craft art. For instance, one can make a musical instrument from pumpkin, or use it to create ornaments, candleholders, or birdhouse.
Pets – Pumpkin is great for dog’s night vision! Although the best way to protect your pet is to take him to the vet, pumpkin is well as a prevention remedy for weight gain, diarrhea and similar digestive problems for both dogs and cats.
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