Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

For most of us, Pumpkin is synonymous with Jack-O’-lantern for the Halloween Day. They take up the prominent role in cakes, cookies and costumes.  People consider pumpkin as funny, cute and an innovative fruit.  There is certainly more than what meets the eye. A large number of people are oblivious to the amazing and the super health benefits of this humble fruit.

Nutrition Facts - Pumpkin Fruit

Pumpkin is one of the most prescribed natural foods to aid weight loss and cholesterol control. It contains low calories (26 calories/100 gm) and is devoid of saturated fats.  However, pumpkin seeds are calorie-dense, having about 555 calories/100gms.

It has a good trace of essential minerals to maintain good muscle and bone health – magnesium, zinc, copper, protein, phosphorus and manganese.

Medical experts recommend a regular use of pumpkin to reduce the risk of breast, lung, head, prostate and neck cancer, as it is an excellent source of carotenes – beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin C. This antioxidant is useful to prevent eye ailments and degenerative diseases such as loss of vision, arthritis, limited motion and loss of normal structure.

High levels of potassium present in pumpkin makes this squash fruit, a diuretic, which prevents fluid retention.  It thus flushes out fat and prevents the formation of kidney stones.

Abundance of fiber in this humble fruit controls constipation and eliminates toxins from the body.

Nutrition Facts - Pumpkin Seeds

Besides these nutritional benefits, the seeds of the pumpkin are super food, which heal several health ailments.

These crunchy nuts increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.  A healthy blood lipid profile is beneficial to curtail cardiovascular diseases.   However, eat them in moderation since they are calorie-dense and excess consumption will lead to weight gain.                

The kernels of the seeds offer rich nutrition to the brain, which regulates emotions and stress. Vitamin B-6 found in these seeds improves memory and boosts overall thinking. Tryptophan, an amino acid aids in soothing the mind for a long restive sleep.

These seeds also work wonders in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, as they are an excellent source of magnesium, which helps in the regulation of blood sugar.

Serving Suggestions

Pumpkins can be eaten baked, cooked or in fried form. The seeds are eaten either raw or roasted.  Roasted ones are crunchy and yummier but are slightly more in calories.  Sprinkle the seeds on a salad, cakes or simply munch on them for snacks.  Use Pumpkin in soup, cookies, muffins, cheesecake, jam, brownies, fudge or pie.

Selection and Storage

Look for a firm, stout-stemmed and a heavy pumpkin.  The color of the pumpkin should be consistent throughout and should not have wrinkles or cuts.  Orange color indicates that it is fully ripe and green are unripe ones. Apply gentle pressure on the bottom of the fruit to see if the pumpkin gives in.  It indicates if it is stale or spoilt.  It can stay for several weeks at room temperature. However, refrigerate the cut or sliced pieces of pumpkin for few days.

Look for shelled nuts, when shopping for pumpkin seeds. Most unshelled nuts tend to be artificially colored, bleached or waxed. Roasting the pumpkin seeds removes the moisture and gives a longer shelf life.  Put them away in an airtight container to prevent them from going rancid. Store them in a refrigerator to keep them fresh for about four to six months.

Enjoy the goodness of pumpkin this holiday season!

The Humble Pumpkin