Fall is definitely my favorite season for enjoying delicious vegetable treats that nature has to offer. From nuts to vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, pumpkins represent superb ambassadors in terms of health benefits before winter peeks out.
Pumpkins, also known as squashes or winter squashes, are vegetables belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family and native to North America. Of the seven continents, only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins. The biggest international producers of the yellow-orange veggies today include the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and China.
Pumpkins are widely used in cooking for their delicious flavor. Moreover, their extracts have long been known in natural medicine for the beneficial effects on human health.
From a dietary point of view, the pumpkin is a vegetable very low in calories. In fact, 100 grams of pumpkin have only 26 calories. You can therefore choose the pumpkin as a light side dish and an ingredient for quite a few autumnal recipes.
Nutritional value for 100 g (3.5 oz) of fresh pumpkin
|109 Kj (26 Kcal)|
(precursor to Vitamin A)
|Lutein + Zeaxanthin
(precursors to Vitamin A)
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic
Health benefits of pumpkins from different parts of the fruit
As with other vegetables having yellow-orange pulp, pumpkin is rich in antioxidants and β-carotene, a component that can be used by the body for the formation of vitamin A. This helps our body in:
- processing cell regeneration and retarding tissue aging;
- protecting heart against the onset of cardiac diseases;
- promoting laxative properties and therefore recommended in case of constipation and bowel irregularity;
- improving digestion and elimination of toxins in the gut and liver.
Centrifuged pumpkin juice has proven to possess beneficial properties. Pumpkin juice is recommended in case of:
- ulcer and particular conditions of acidity within the digestive system. Following natural medicine it is recommended to consume a glass of pumpkin juice three times a day, half an hour before meals;
- insomnia, given the attribution of sedative effects.
After opening and cutting a pumpkin, it’s a good idea not to throw out its seeds. In fact, they can be rinsed and left to dry in open air, in order to store them in paper envelopes and sow them in late spring. They may otherwise be roasted in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180 °C (350 °F) and consumed as a snack or used as a condiment.
Because of their valuable content of lecithin, thyroxine, phosphorus, vitamin A and B vitamins, pumpkin seeds can also provide a beneficial oil that can be used in cooking. The consumption of pumpkin seed oil is recommended in these cases:
- to eliminate intestinal parasites;
- to lower excessive blood cholesterol;
- to treat inflammatory states of the skin, like itching or redness, as well as burns, abscesses, and insect bites. For its emollient and soothing properties, pumpkin seed oil is used in the cosmetic preparation of anti-aging creams and masks.
Many do not know that pumpkins can be eaten raw, so that their vitamin content is retained. Pumpkin flesh can be otherwise steamed, baked, or boiled. Excellent for the preparation of pureed soups and also as a sauce for seasoning pizza or pasta, replacing the tomato sauce. Pumpkin pulp also matches tasty risotto recipes and flavored homemade bread.
With all these benefits in mind, I am not surprised this virtuous vegetable is used as a jack-o’-lantern to chase away pesky spirits on Halloween.