Pumpkin gloriously enters the stage in September and stays in the front stage almost all winter long. Many have linked it with Halloween but its nutrition benefits make it much more than a festive decoration.
Pumpkin as a word originates some centuries back from the Greek word “megalo peponi” which means “big melon”. This word recently changed due to the French pronunciation in “pompon” and later from the English people from “pompon” in “pumpion”. Its last pronunciation came from the Americans to the name we all know today “pumpkin”.
Pumpkins belong to the family of cucurbitaceae, in the same as melons, cucumber, watermelon and zucchini. The varieties are many and the color is mainly orange or yellow. We can meet it also in other colors as white, green, red or grey.
Pumpkin has vitamins, carotene and fiber, which seems to be very beneficial to human body because of antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions.
From scientific view, pumpkin belongs to fruits (because it has seeds), while from the nutritional side seems more of a vegetable.
Pumpkin has low calories while its rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can consume the flesh and the seeds it contains. A cup of 245 g cooked pumpkin contains:
| Energy: 49 kcal|
Fat: 0.2 g
Carbs: 12 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 2 g
Vitamin Α: 705 mcg
Vitamin Ε: 2 mg
Vitamin C: 12 mg
B3 (niacin): 1 mg
Folic acid: 22 mcg
Iron: 1.4 mg
Calcium: 37 mg
Magnesium: 22 mg
Zinc: 1 mg
Selenium: 0.5 mg
Potassium: 564 mg
Immune system: pumpkin is rich in beta carotene and vitamin C which both help our immune system. Through studies seems that beta carotene turns that helps fight infections. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood vessels which makes our cells more effective in fighting pathogenic microorganisms.
Eye health: crucial role in good eye function plays vitamin A that can be found in big quantities in pumpkin. Through studies we can observe that people with low intake of vitamin A had increased possibilities of eyesight loss. Lutein and zeaxanthin that pumpkin has, help protect against macular degeneration and cataract, chronic diseases that appear mainly in older people.
Cardiac health: high content of it in potassium make it beneficial for the health of heart, by regulating blood pressure.
Metabolism / Body weight regulation: pumpkin is considered to be a food that contains a lot of nutrients. It is low in calories and 94% consists of water. The fiber of this vegetable makes it ideal for satiety and consequently appetite regulation.
Bowl function: the fiber and water it contains make it ideal for good bowel movement. Thus, it is also used by people who face constipation problems.
Skin health: beta carotene acts as a natural sunscreen. Vitamin C is responsible for the production of skin collagen and vitamin E, lutein and zeaxanthin act as antioxidants by binding free radicals which cause damage to our skin.
Prostate cancer: pumpkin seeds seem to have a beneficial effect on benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Which people should avoid it:
- people with intestinal disorders. Roasted or boiled pumpkin due to its laxative properties can aggravate the condition.
- people who experience allergic reactions after consuming it.
- people receiving treatment (lithium). Pumpkin is considered a mild diuretic and can disrupt the body’s ability to remove lithium from the body causing serious side effects.
To sum up:
- Pumpkin is a nutritious vegetable that provides us vitamins, minerals and it is rich in fiber.
- We can utilize its flesh and spores in many culinary preparations.
- Including it in our diet we can offer benefits in terms of our health..