The origin and physical characteristics of pumpkin
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) is an annual herbaceous plant that is grown as a vegetable crop on arable land, and used both in the human and in animal diet.
Cultivation of pumpkins in the fields is done in order to obtain fruit but also for extraction of pumpkin seeds from which further processing gets very high quality pumpkin oil.
The leaves are green, fine needle shape growths, wide and numerous. The flower of pumpkin is yellow orange and very sturdy. Pumpkin blooms in July and August and is ready for harvesting during the autumn months.
The origin of pumpkins is Central America, and is considered to be the most cultured of 4 000 years ago on the territory of Peru and Mexico. From America during colonization, pumpkin was transferred to the soil of Europe and other continents.
Nutritional value of pumpkin
As already mentioned, pumpkin is used in nutrition as a fruit and pumpkin seeds, which can be used for snacking and for industrial production of pumpkin oil.
Yellow pumpkin orange fruit contains the most water (90%), while the rest of the dry matter is consists of nutrients, among which the most represented minerals and vitamins.
Vitamins complex which stands pumpkin out as a nutritious vegetable consist of:
- Beta carotene and vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamins of the B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, Folic Acid)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
The mineral composition of pumpkin contains of:
Pumpkin is exceptionally rich in plant fibber, pectin and cellulose, which are very important for good digestion.
Fruit of pumpkin contains 60% unsaturated fatty acids; it is particularly rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are extremely important in preserving the health of the cardiovascular and nervous system.
The fruit of pumpkin contains very little fat, even slightly, and pumpkins often used in diets for weight loss and for people who have problems with high levels of cholesterol in the blood.
On the other hand, pumpkin seeds are very rich in fats, carbohydrate, which why pumpkin is classified as the high calorific food. Like the fruit of pumpkin, Seeds contains in the most part omega unsaturated fatty acids.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in quality proteins, which makes 20% of total nutrients in pumpkin.
From minerals, pumpkin seeds are rich in potassium, which is important in maintaining blood pressure, fluid levels in the body and affect the normal excretion of fluids from the body.
Among the other important minerals in pumpkin seeds isolated as magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamin E and selenium, which is why it should be included in the diet of women in menopause and men with problems related to the work of the prostate.
B complex vitamins as well as vitamin K in pumpkin seeds are important for healthy bones, muscles, and in the process of blood coagulation.
In the pumpkin seeds were found phytosterols that are structurally similar to the compounds of cholesterol. When used regularly in the diet, it reduce cholesterol levels, improve immunity and prevent the occurrence of cancer.
What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin?
1. Pumpkin lowers cholesterol
Extremely important function of the pumpkin is regulation of cholesterol and raising only good cholesterol levels in the blood. It has been proven that pumpkin seeds can reduce the level of bad cholesterol by 13% and raise the level of good cholesterol by 10%. By reducing bad cholesterol effect, pumpkins directly affect the prevention of heart disease, thrombosis, heart attack and stroke.
2. Effects on the reproductive system
Pumpkin is rich in vitamins and important minerals, among which stands out vitamin E, which are important in maintaining normal metabolic - hormonal functions in the body.
During the androgens pause, in 80% of men reported the occurrence of prostate enlargement, or disturbances in its work which can lead to cancer of prostate. Therefore, the pumpkin seed oil is extremely important in the prevention and treatment of enlarged prostate situation and disorder in its work.
For women in menopause, pumpkin can be very important, because it contains phytosterols, compounds that decrease the level of cholesterol in the blood and prevents stroke. In addition, the pumpkin seeds contain important minerals and vitamins which can reduce the symptoms associated with menopause (hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, pain in bones and joints.)
3. Pumpkin seed in the fight against diabetes
The richness of plant fibber, unsaturated fatty acids allow the regulation of blood sugar levels, which is why doctors advise to patients of diabetes to use pumpkin seeds in daily diet.
4. Eat pumpkin for a better mood
Chew pumpkin seeds do not have to be just a reserve for a good movie, because it also has healing properties. Pumpkin seeds reduce stress, anxiety, relieve depression and bring good mood.
5. Pumpkin in diets for weight loss
If you want to Lose Weight insert a pumpkin into your diet. It is a low-calorie foods that you can eat cooked or baked without added sugar. It gives a longer feeling of satiety, and supply body with proteins and fats.
6. Arthritis and Osteoporosis
Conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis can be prevented and treated by eating pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory effect and eases symptoms related to arthritis. In osteoporosis, pumpkin seeds are important because they contain the mineral zinc, which is important in building and maintaining bone strength.
7. Pumpkin is a natural remedy against parasites
Pumpkin seeds are a traditional remedy for the treatment of children who have some intestinal parasites (worms and tapeworm).
8. Pumpkin is a good diuretic
The presence of potassium in pumpkin enables normal urination, excretion of excess fluid, preventing gout and rheumatism, as well as preventing the formation of sand and stones in the kidney. Pumpkin seeds are acting anti-inflammatory, so relieves symptoms relegated to kidney infections and bladder. In this case, it is recommended daily consumption of baked or cooked pumpkin with no added salt and sugar.
9. Pumpkin against skin diseases
It has been proven efficacy of pumpkin in the treatment of psoriasis, burns, wounds, chapped skin, where it is used in the form of unrefined oil pumpkin which can be apply on the skin.
10. Eye Protector
Pumpkin is very rich in vitamin A, which is important for good work of the eyes, especially the retina. Thanks to the beta-carotene, pumpkin is a powerful antioxidant and protects the eye from cataracts.
Application of pumpkin in human nutrition
In the human diet, pumpkin fruit is used fresh as a juice, or baked and cooked, added blended to sauces or soups.
Seeds of pumpkin can be use as snacks, or can be added to bread, pastries, cream soups, salads and so. From pumpkin seeds with extraction process obtain unrefined pumpkin oil with dark green color and taste like pumping seeds.
Although it is common practice to pumpkin seeds just baked in the oven, it is better to pre-boil in salted water (just to throw away the key), and then dried at a lower temperature in the oven. Thus the seed becomes juicier and less salty, and natural ingredients will preserve a greater extent.