Pumpkin is a gourd-like squash that belongs to the Cucurbita family. The shape varies from oblong to oblate and its “skin” is usually thick in orange or yellowish color. The inside flesh vary from pale to dark green, white to gray and orange-yellow to red. At the core of pumpkin, are the seeds which are edible.
Generally, a pumpkin weighs around 4-8 kg (9-18 lbs). However, with the Cucurbita maxima (the largest pumpkins species) its weight can reach up to 34 kg (75lbs).
Another very interesting fact is that pumpkins are monoecious plants, this means they have both genders (male and female flowers) on one plant. The female flower can be easily identified with having a small “ovary” at the bottom of the petals.
In the United States of America, the pumpkin has been used over the centuries for both food and recreation. Pumpkin pie is the popular traditional Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkins are also carved out to be made into Halloween’s Jack O’ Lantern.
Nutritional Benefits Of Pumpkin
Pumpkins are so “cheerful looking” with their bright colors. Its yellow-orangey skin and flesh is packed with the carotenoids.
Pumpkin is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and the B vitamins and dietary fiber. Mineral wise, it’s rich with potassium, iron, calsium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc.
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin
This bright-colored, gourd-like squash is so rich with nutrients that makes it a very valuable vegetable from the health perspective.
Anti-inflammatory effect: Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that are very useful against the arthritis and joint inflammation.
Asthma: The anti-oxidants effectively protects the respiratory system from infections and free-radical attacks, reducing and healing asthma attacks.
Atherosclerosis: The highly cleansing power of this orange-colored juice helps scrub away the old build-up of arterial deposits, reducing the risks of heart diseases and stroke. The high anti-oxidants prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Bone health: Pumpkin is rich also in calcium. I would make a pumpkin juice with carrots and broccoli that makes it so healthful for bone development.
Cholesterol: Pumpkin has high amounts of phytosterols that is similar to our human cholesterol. It can replace and normalize the cholesterol to a healthy level.
Depression: One of the cause of depression is the lack of trytophan in our diet. Pumpkin is rich with L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that our body cannot manufacture. When this chemical compound is supplied, it activates the feeling of happiness and well-being, reducing the depressed mood.
Dietary fiber: The bulk that pumpkin flesh provides is helpful dietary fiber that aids in gastrointestinal disorders for example indigestion, constipation etc. It also facilitates in lessening the blood LDL cholesterol level and regulates the blood sugar level.
Diuretics: Pumpkin juice (juiced uncooked) act as an innate diuretic, which is very useful for getting rid of toxins and useless waste materials by flushing them out of the body. It can be included as a detoxifying food.
Eyesight/vision: Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are some of the finest nourishment that help keep the optic system in tip-top condition, with special protection against astigmatism, macular degeneration and cataracts.
Immune system: It does wonders for boosting the immune system by increasing the production and performance of white blood cells; building resistance to various kinds of infections.
Kidney stones, prevent: Pumpkin seeds are also great for the kidneys. By taking about 5 – 10 grams of pumpkin seeds daily prevents stones formation in the kidneys.
Parasites: In traditional Chinese medicine, pumpkin seeds are ground into powder form to be drunk with the juice for the treatment of parasites or tapeworm infection.
Peptic ulcers: Pumpkin has all the right mix of medicinal properties that are calming to the gastrointestinal tract, healing to digestive conditions and peptic ulcers. In this case, best to take in the nutrients in juice form.
Prostate cancer: The high content of zinc and carotenoids in pumpkin and its seeds help protect against prostate cancer. These compounds prevents enlargement of the prostate and over-stimulation of the male hormones that cause prostate problems.
Skin: The high quantity of anti-oxidants in the form of vitamins A, C and E, and zinc, provide the synergistic healing virtues that are great for the skin. These healthful properties are best obtained by drinking of its juice regularly.
Generally, pumpkins are available for purchase throughout the year. To select a pumpkin for cooking, choose a heavy one as it has smaller space in the middle which means more flesh.
Pumpkin is mostly used to make soups or pie. Not many people know that it can be juiced and drunk in its raw form, let alone daring to try it. But it has all its nutrients and enzymes undisturbed in its raw form. Here’s a nice pumpkin juice recipe you can make using uncooked pumpkin.
Pumpkin has a pretty much long life if it is stored properly in the refrigerator. Wrap it carefully with newspaper to retain the moisture.
Some people may be allergic to pumpkin seeds. Try a little to see if there is any reaction to your body, especially if you’ve never eaten pumpkin seeds.