Pumpkin is a fruit which belongs to the gourd family and also resembles gourd in its appearance. People commonly associate the bright orange colored pumpkin with Halloween, because of the 'jack-o-lantern' tradition and its uses in various Halloween decorations. Like all bright colored vegetables, pumpkin too is rich in many essential vitamins and minerals. Because of the high nutrition value, pumpkins at times are also referred to as a nutritional powerhouse.
Nutritional Facts on Pumpkins
The following is the nutrients present in one cup of cooked, boiled and drained pumpkin:
|Dietary Fiber||3 grams|
|Vitamin A||2650 IU|
|Vitamin C||12 mg|
|Vitamin E||3 mg|
Other Nutritional Benefits
Carotenoids, present in large amounts in pumpkin, boost the body's immune system and help in keeping a person healthy and strong. Cucurbitacin is an active ingredient in pumpkins. It is very useful in preventing urinary tract infections and prostate cancer. Chances of a person having a stroke are reduced because of the presence of beta-carotene in pumpkin. Beta carotene is an anti-inflammatory and a strong antioxidant, which prevents cholesterol from settling on the arterial walls. The dietary fiber in pumpkin assists in maintaining proper bowel movement. Alpha-carotene found in pumpkin has the ability to slow down the aging process along with preventing the formation of cataract in eyes. A major eye disorder, macular degeneration, can be avoided by consuming pumpkin. Pumpkins are rich in potassium, which keeps the heartbeat healthy and also reduces chances of hypertension. Zinc improves bone density and is essential to maintain the body's immune system. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body and also helps in preventing many heart diseases. Pumpkins, being low in fat and high in water content, are a great snack for people who are weight conscious. Eating pumpkin is also recommended to people suffering from gastroenteric diseases. Including mashed pumpkin in their daily diet helps them to recover quickly as pumpkin helps in curing the ulcer scars faster.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
The best part about pumpkins is that even its seeds are highly nutritious. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have been used since ancient days to treat various parasite infections and kidney problems. Pumpkin seeds are also known to facilitate better functioning of the brain. The phytosteroids present in pumpkins help in preventing certain kinds of cancers. Apart from these, pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium, iron, amino acids, vitamin K and zinc which provide numerous other health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack and can be eaten raw as well. People, however, do like to consume roasted pumpkin seeds or mix them in other foodstuffs like cereals, salads and bread.
Since pumpkins provide tremendous health benefits, it makes sense to include them in the daily diet. Pumpkins being versatile, can be included in a variety of foodstuffs. Apart from the usual pumpkin pie, innovative pumpkin recipes like pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin pudding can be tried.
Pumpkin, being an attractive fruit, makes it a favorite among kids as well. Also, the nutrients the kids receive from its consumption helps them in their growing years to build a strong body along with developing a highly potent immune system to fight diseases.