Pumpkin come from the family of Squash and are native to North America. They are a popular ingredient as a food item and also have cultural importance in many societies.
They are versatile and are used in savory as well as dessert preparations. The bright orange hue Pumpkin shell encompasses soft yet firm pulp and numerous seeds.
They are bland when unripe and have a slightly sweetish flavor as they ripen. The largest producer of Pumpkin is the United States of America where about 1.5 billion pounds of this vegetable is harvested annually.
Pumpkin crops grow well in warm weather and need soil which holds water. They can not be grown in places which are dry and have limited water irrigation.
Presently pumpkins are grown almost in all continents and are widely available in canned form.
Scientific Name: Cucurbita Maxima
Pumpkin, just like its color has a very vibrant and healthy composition of nutrients. Pumpkin is a rich source of
Vitamins, Minerals and trace metals essential for our bodies.
It is an easy to digest vegetable and can be easily incorporated in the diet of younger children. The Chart below elaborates the goodness of pumpkin in detail for every hundred grams serving.
Pumpkin is particularly rich in Vitamin A and its precursor Beta Carotene with the former making up for about 53% and latter 29% of your daily requirement.
You can derive almost 9% of Vitamin B2, 11% of Vitamin C and 6% of your daily requirement of Iron, Manganese, Phosphorus and Vitamin B5. It contains considerable amount of Potassium.
Pumpkin is an excellent food item for Children as well as for aging individual.
Minimal amount of fats and abundant quantity of vitamins make Pumpkin a must in your daily diet and can help in balancing the nutrition intake.
We have enumerated important and significant health benefits of Pumpkin in detail for the benefit of our readers.
1. For Healthy Eyes and Vision
Vitamin A and Beta Carotene, both are highly beneficial for your eye health and eye sight. It helps in adjusting the eyes to changing intensity of light by facilitating contraction and expansion if iris. Vitamin A alleviates
Vitamin A alleviates the symptoms of Dry Eye syndrome by safeguarding the eye membranes.
Giving children daily dosage of Vitamin A in form of natural nutrition at an early age and on a consistent and regular basis can help in having good eye sight even when they grow older.
Pumpkin is essentially a warehouse of Vitamin A and Beta Carotene with 100 grams fulfilling almost half of your daily Vitamin A requirement.
It can be used for making pies and soups that are easier for children to like and eat. Raw form of pumpkin has the maximum benefits and nutrition. In older age it can also reduce the risk of developing Cataract, a condition
2. Improves Immunity
Your immune system is what defends your body against attack of pathogens and strengthens it against diseases in general. Your immunity determines your fitness level.
So what can we do make it strong and effective?
Answer is simple- give it nutrition rich in antioxidants like pumpkin which is rich in Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Zeaxanthin and Vitamin C amongst others.
Antioxidants work by removing and scavenging on the free radicals that are produced in the body as a result of oxidative reactions.
If free radicals are not checked and controlled by antioxidants then they tend to harm our body at a cellular level and altering its properties.
Most of the tumors and cancers are a direct result of unchecked growth of free radicals in the body. These free radicals damage the cells, who then divide rapidly and invade the space of healthy cells.
3. Alleviates Anemia
Anemia is a common condition which in a layman’s language means lack of blood. But actually it is the Hemoglobin count in blood that is deficient in the body which leads to Anemia.
Hemoglobin is the pigment that gives our blood its color and is the component that transports oxygen to all parts of our body.
People suffering from Anemia usually show the symptoms of lethargy, drowsiness, pale complexion and tongue, dizziness and headaches.
Pumpkin has significant amount of Iron which constitutes hemoglobin and Vitamin B12 which supports the treatment of Anemia.
Vitamin B12 is also known to be very effective in treating a rare blood disorder called Sickle cell anemia.
4. Boosts Energy
Now pumpkin itself has low calories and is usually not considered a high energy food. However if you move beyond the Calorie factor and on to its Vitamin B12 content you will realize that pumpkin is an energizing vegetable.
The nutrition that we consume through our diet is not readily available for utilization, it needs to be broken down and synthesized for absorption.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for breaking down Carbohydrates, Proteins and fats to provide the ultimate platform to your body to absorb this nutrition.
Without Vitamin B12, all the nutrition you consume would simply get washed out without getting absorbed leading to other deficiencies.
5. Controls Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by blood as it rushes through the blood vessels. There are two limits of Blood pressure- Low and High.
When the heart contracts, it lowers this pressure and as it expands to let the blood out, there is an increase in the same. These two actions determine the lower and upper limit of blood pressure which should ideally be between 75 to 120.
Pumpkin contains significant amount of Potassium and regulates blood pressure and especially the risk of low blood pressure.
So, how does it do it?
Potassium basically manages and keeps the level of salt in check. Excessive Salt is known to elevate the blood pressure and a lower level of it can lead to a drop in it.
6. Safeguards your heart
Heart is made up of muscles and they make the function of expansion and contraction possible. This muscle function is regulated by electrolyte levels in the body, of which potassium is one of the constituents.
It prevents the irregular heart beat called Arrhythmia. As it maintains the blood pressure, there is a stress-free working for heart which can experience strokes and heart attacks with fluctuating blood pressure.
Apart from all these factors, Pumpkin controls cholesterol levels as well since it is a minimal fat containing vegetable itself. All these properties make pumpkin a great friend for your heart.
The Vitamin C content of Pumpkin is also strongly associated with upkeep of blood vessels, protection from Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular diseases.
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7. Respiratory Relief
Though there has been a long standing debate on the effectiveness of Vitamin C in warding off cold and flu, many studies do show that Vitamin C works against them.
Vitamin C shortens the duration and reduces the frequency and intensity of these conditions. It probably works by strengthening the immune system. Pumpkin has a high content of this water soluble Vitamin C.
Studies and experiments have established that a combination of Vitamin C and Vitamin E can reduce the frequencies of Asthmatic attack owing to environmental triggers. It also has shown a reduction in the usage of Asthmatic medicines containing corticosteroid in adults.
8. Improves Thyroid Function
Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin B2 also known as Riboflavin. Riboflavin is responsible for optimizing thyroid function which is producing, storing and releasing hormones in the blood stream.
These hormones regulate the frequency at which energy is used by our body. These hormones also determine your mood, activity, weight gain and weight loss.
Usually deficiency or shortage of Vitamin B2 suppresses thyroid function which directly affects the release of hormones in the body. This leads to low energy levels, persistent drowsiness and general tardiness.
9. Weight Loss management
The beauty of high fiber low fat diet is that it acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
High fiber diet has a knack of making your stomach feel full with less amount and it also keeps you feeling full for a longer time. This way it curbs the unhealthy and unwanted food cravings that disguise themselves as hunger.
Pumpkin is one such vegetable which has almost no fats and has considerable amount of fiber.
It also makes your metabolism work well by improving regular bowel movement. High fiber diet prevents constipation and softens stools which in turn leads to an effective excretion of stools out of the body.
10. Healthy Skin
The problems of Acne, dark spots and premature aging of skin are some of the most common problems being faced by almost everyone.
The contributory factors are pollution, unhealthy lifestyle and low nutrition. It is important to eat right to have a glowing and healthy skin.
Pumpkin is a composition of antioxidants that flush out the toxins and free radicals in the body. These toxins are responsible for acne and pimple breakout on the facial skin.
Free radicals damage cells and are known to cause premature aging in form of wrinkles. Apart from these antioxidants Vitamin B2 in pumpkin boosts cell production which replaces the dead and old layer of tissue with the new one further delaying the skin aging.
This process alleviates the dark spots that usually house themselves in the inner layers of the facial skin.
11. Pumpkin for Prostate Health
Phytosterols in Pumpkin seeds is considered an extremely effective treatment of enlarged prostrate. Men usually develop a higher risk of developing prostate enlargement post 50 years. The risk increases almost by 50% in such men. The cells in Prostate gland tend to overgrow with age resulting in slowness in urination.
Consumption of pumpkin seeds three times a day regularly, reduces the risk of developing enlargement of prostrate.
The Phytosterols in pumpkin have the property for shrinking enlarged prostrate. The anti-oxidants in pumpkin also reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Interesting Facts about Pumpkin
The largest known pumpkin that has broken world record is weighed at 2032 pounds which is about 920 kilograms. Though glorious yellow and golden is the most popular color of Pumpkin but they are also found in white, green and red colors.
Pumpkin seeds are also known for their effectiveness on heart diseases and coronary health. Pumpkin seeds are dried and roasted; they are also used as dried fruit and is incorporated in desserts in India.
Pumpkins have a strong association with Halloween because of a myth that witches turned humans into pumpkins in older days. Today they are used as a very popular decoration item in the Halloween decoration and are usually carved out in form of faces. Candles are placed in them and are popularly called “Jack-O-Lantern”.
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