Pumpkin is a food of very high nutritional value. This means that it is very rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, but very low in calories. Both the flesh and seeds of the pumpkin provide significant benefits to our health. It is one of the foods recommended by dietitians for lowering cholesterol and weight reduction programs.
Nutritional value of pumpkin
Indicatively, a cup of cooked pumpkin flesh, without salt, contains 1.76 g. protein, 0.17 g. fat, 0 g. cholesterol and 12 g. carbohydrate (of which 2.7 g. fiber and 5.1 g. sugars). The consumption of such a quantity of cooked pumpkin offers more than 100% of the daily needs of the body into vitamin A, 20% of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese, and at least 5% of thiamin, vitamin B6, folic acid, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Stunned?Let’s see everything in detail:
Beneficial properties of pumpkin
Pumpkin is one of the most important sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that is converted by the body into vitamin A. This accounts for the intense orange color of some fruits and vegetables. The consumption of foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of certain cancers (it is particularly associated with prostate and colon cancer), to protect against asthma and cardiac disease, and to slow the degeneration and the aging of the organism .
Beta-carotene found in the seeds and the flesh of pumpkin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular pumpkin consumption appears to protect against inflammation in the joints and arthritis, giving immediate relief to inflammation.
Dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium contained in large quantities in pumpkin, also contribute to the proper cardiac function. Adequate intake of potassium help to treat hypertension, to reduce the risk of stroke, to protect against the loss of muscle mass, to maintain bone density and reduce the formation of kidney stones. Moreover, it helps to restore the electrolyte balance in our body, after heavy training and helps in the proper functioning of muscles.
The antioxidant vitamins C and E and beta-carotene appears to have a beneficial effect on eye health and prevent any degenerative damage (e.g., macula). The same effect has zeaxanthin, a natural antioxidant.
Vitamin A, contained in a large amount in pumpkin, is necessary during pregnancy and lactation for the synthesis of fetal hormones.
Foods like pumpkin, containing high content in vitamin C and beta-carotene, act as a shield for our immune system.
The fibers contained in pumpkin help in the elimination of a portion of cholesterol from the body, but also in the treatment of chronic constipation by increasing intestinal motility. The high amount of fiber also helps to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin consumption is particularly beneficial for those suffering from gastric problems, because it reduces the acidity of stomach fluid.
As for pumpkin seeds, I have devoted an entire article, which you can read here. Moreover, pumpkin seeds are mentioned in the article on the 12 Foods to fight Stress. It is a nutritional treasure!
Selection, storage and use
Pumpkins can be found in various shapes from lateAugust to March, but the best time is from October to November. There are, however, some summer varieties as well. Choose a ripe pumpkin that sounds like wood when hit. They should be heavy, without “crumpled” surface, cuts or bruises.
Save for several weeks (up to 6 months!) in a well ventilated area at room temperature. The ancient Chinese, in fact, used the pumpkin shell as a storage place of medicines and herbs. The cut pieces can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer.
Wash thoroughly with running water to remove dirt, dust and debris from insecticides / fungicides. Cut the stalk and then cut the pumpkin into two parts. Remove the fibers and seeds and cut the flesh into pieces of the desired size.
Do not throw away the seeds! It is the healthiest snacks. Rinse them well to remove the fruit fibers and dry them well on a towel. If fresh, they can be eaten whole, with the peel. Soon we will see a quick and easy way to enjoy them.
The flesh of the pumpkin can be used in a variety of delicious recipes. We will see many such recipes in the near future. Steaming, however, gives us the maximum nutritional value.
The spices that perfectly match with pumpkin is nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, coriander and ginger.
Note: The ideas and information presented in this blog are for informational purposes only and in no case can replace the advice of a specialist in nutrition and health. Before starting any diet or exercise or before adding a special food in your daily intake, you should contact a specialist doctor or dietitian; especially if you suffer from a serious illness.