Pumpkin is a fruit of the plant of the same name and belongs to the cucurbitaceae family that also includes gourds. It is quite similar to gourd in its appearance and is believed to have originated in North America.
However, there is no fixed shape of pumpkins and they usually vary from being oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth, lightly ribbed and usually, orange or yellow in color.
With a high nutritional value, pumpkins are associated with a lot of health benefits. Apart from the flesh, even the seeds of pumpkins boast of a large number of nutrition benefits.
Pumpkin is chock full ‘o goodness. You can tell by its bright color that it’s going to be going to be good for you. Not only is pumpkin loaded with vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta-carotenes, it’s a good source of vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron.
The spherical shaped fruits range in weight from less than 0.5kg to more than 50kg. Its ability to grow to such a large size makes it the largest fruit in the plant kingdom. The pumpkin plant which grow up to 25 feet long produces both male and female bright yellow colored flowers with five petals. The female flower has a little pumpkin at the bottom. The leaves are lobed with 3 or 5 lobes. Pumpkins were used to treat bladder problems and as a pain killer. Its seeds are an excellent source of fat and protein.
This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Pumpkin is very rich in carotenoids, which is known for keeping the immune system of an individual strong and healthy.
Being rich in alpha-carotene, pumpkin is believed to slow the process of aging and also prevent cataract formation.
Beta-carotene, found in pumpkin, is a powerful antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps prevent build up of cholesterol on the arterial walls, thus reducing chances of strokes.
Pumpkins have been known to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a serious eye problem than usually results in blindness.
The high amount of fiber, present in a pumpkin, is good for the bowel health of an individual.
Being loaded with potassium, pumpkin is associated with lowering the risk of hypertension.
The presence of zinc in pumpkins boosts the immune system and also improves the bone density.
Pumpkin is low in fat and calories and rich in disease fighting nutrients such as:
- Alpha carotene
- Beta carotene
- Vitamins C and E
- Pantothenic acid
1 cup pumpkin (cooked, boiled, and drained) contains:
49 calories, sugars 1.58 g, water 106.26 g, calcium 37 mg, carbohydrate 12 gm, dietary fiber 3 gm, Folate 21mcg, iron 1.4 mg.
Vitamin C 12 mg, Vitamin E 3 mg, zinc 1 mg.
Health tips for pumpkin
Pumpkin is often relegated to the holiday seasons only, but there are more than a few reasons that you should consider adding pumpkin to your diet on a regular basis throughout the year.
Before you go off thinking that it is going to be difficult to you to incorporate pumpkin into your regular eating habits, don’t get too worried about it. In fact, there are lots of great ways to add pumpkin to your diet too that do not include pies and whipped cream (though that’s okay too for most people if they don’t overdo it). You can enjoy pumpkin as bread, or in muffins, in pumpkin rolls, or even in pumpkin casseroles.
Don’t be a pumpkin head, but head for pumpkin the next chance you get.