The humble pumpkin is a staple item in our household. Pumpkins are such versatile vegetables. Well, they can be labeled as a fruit too. They are both dependent on what definition you use. They are fruit because they are the part of the plant that contains and protects the seeds. They are vegetables because they are eaten cooked, not raw (one of the definitions) and because they belong to the vegetable kingdom.
Everyone in our family loves pumpkin, except the littlest one but she is slowly learning to acquire the taste and texture. I am sure she will soon grow to love pumpkin too, just like our 2 older girls who didn’t like pumpkin when they were little but have grown to appreciate it now.
Our favorite type of pumpkin is the organic Japanese pumpkin as the flesh has a very creamy and smooth texture. We have tried other types of pumpkins but didn’t really like those as the flesh tends to melt and turns watery when cooked too long.
Here are some key points about pumpkin:
- Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Pumpkin is one of the best-known sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
- The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure.
- The antioxidants and vitamins contained within pumpkins could prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.
- Pumpkin is an extremely nutrient dense food, meaning it is high in vitamins and minerals but low in calories.
- According to the USDA National Nutrient database, one cup of pumpkin, cooked, boiled, drained and without salt contains 49 calories, 1.76 grams of protein, 0.17 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol and 12 grams of carbohydrate (including 2.7 grams of fiber and 5.1 grams of sugar).
Here are some of the possible health benefits of pumpkin
1) Keep eyesight sharp
Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.
2) Aid weight loss
Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.
3) May reduce cancer risk
Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.
One particular type of cancer where research has shown a positive benefits of a diet rich in beta-carotene is prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition. Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
4) Protect our skin
The same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free.
5) Good for your heart
Eating pumpkin is good for the heart! The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health.
Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, tomatoes and beets appear to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications. The vitamin A in pumpkin (consumed as beta-carotene then converted to vitamin A in the body) is also essential during pregnancy and lactation for hormone synthesis.
7) Protect Your Package
Pumpkins, especially the seeds are rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants with cancer protective properties. And pumpkin seeds could be especially healthy for men. Researchers in Taiwan found pumpkin seed oil blocked unhealthy prostate growth in male rats. A quarter cup of the seeds also contains about 2.75 mg of zinc (about 17 percent of the recommended daily intake for adults), which contributes to male sexual health.
In the early twentieth century, people used pumpkin seeds to treat enlarged prostate symptoms. They contain protective compounds called phytosterols, which may help shrink the prostate.
8) Pumpkin seeds treat intestinal worms
Pumpkin seeds can also help your body get rid of nasty gut parasites that can make you sick, according to registered pharmacist Debbie Edson in Living Well Magazine. They have traditionally been used for this purpose by Native Americans. Even today, pumpkin seeds are used to treat tapeworms in some parts of Africa.
There are many interesting ways of incorporating pumpkins into your diet. Pumpkins are so choke-full of nutrients, they taste delish and are inexpensive. I like my pumpkin roasted, steamed, braised, added into breads and buns and I heart pumpkin desserts and pumpkin chips! I just Googled ‘pumpkin recipes’ and in 0.62 seconds, 17,100,000 search results popped up!