Pumpkin is an annual vine or climber and can be cultivated from sea level to high altitudes. It has a high concentration of unique natural antioxidants and beneficial bioactive compounds. Pumpkin benefits multiple body systems and helps to alleviate health risks from Diabetes, Inflammation, Cancer, and low Immunity.
All parts of the plant are edible including the seeds, flowers, fruit and greens. The most important part of pumpkin is its low-fat and protein-rich seeds. An equally important part is its fruit. It is part of cuisine and meals in most parts of the world, where it is consumed for its medicinal properties and for its naturally sweet taste.
Pumpkin in Ayurveda
Pumpkin carries Sweet taste and it increases stability and promotes Kapha Dosha. Pumpkin fruit is not recommended for regular consumption by Kapha prakruti and for weight loss pursuant.
However, Pitta and Vata prakruti should include it in diet as it helps to balance the body constitution. Pumpkin Seeds are recommended for all 3 Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (in moderation).
Pumpkin contains several phytonutrients belonging to the categories of Alkaloids, Flavonoids, Palmitic, Oleic and Linoleic acids. These bioactive compounds participate in vital functions as enhancing the production of necessary hormones as insulin, absorption of nutrients, and immune system cells.
100 g pumpkin fruit contains only 26 calories and provides with good concentration of Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants.
- Pumpkin fruit and seeds are low in sugar, and calories. It contains no saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of proteins and essential amino acids as lutein and lycine.
- Pumpkin fruit is rich in proteins, fibers, polysaccharides that act as prebiotics, and phytosterols.
- Pumpkin fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants Vitamins as Vitamin A in the form of alpha and beta Carotenes, Vitamin E as tocopherols, and Vitamin C. It is one of the highest Vitamin A vegetables with nearly 200% Vitamin A from 100g.
- It provides with Folate for the growth of tissues for fetus and young children.
- The fruit also contains essential fatty acids as linoleic acid and oleic acid.
- Pumpkin fruit is a rich source of Potassium for heart health. It contains good amount of Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Calcium for bone health.
- Pumpkin seeds contain relatively large amount of various essential Minerals such as Potassium, Chromium and Sodium. Seeds are a good source of Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.
Pumpkin fruit and seeds are a rich source of Vitamins, Antioxidants, Minerals, and several enzymes that play vital role in body functions.
Pumpkin seeds and fruit pulp contain antioxidants that prevent skin damage from the sun. It is used in multiple cosmetic products such as skin scrubbers, body masks, body butter, massage oils, massage lotion and dry facial masks.
Pumpkin benefits Diabetics in many ways. Both the seeds and the fruit possess following properties.
- Its hypoglycemic action due to protein bound polysaccharides helps to manage the blood sugar load.
- Also, it contains several compounds that enhance insulin sensitivity and also increase secretion of insulin from β-cells of the pancreas.
- The phenolic compounds present in pumpkin also have anti-diabetic effects by inhibiting b-glucosidase and a-amylase.
- Pumpkin seeds help to increase the mass of pancreatic β-cells.
- It also improves the glucose tolerance for Diabetics.
Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Aging
Antioxidants are important substance for our bodies to protect us from degenerative diseases as metabolic disorders related to diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, inflammation, immunity, aging, and cancer.
- Pumpkin fruits contain rich concentration of diverse antioxidants ranging from phenolic compounds, flavonoids, alkaloids, and fatty acids.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich with Vitamin E which is an important free radicle scavenger. It increases the level of antioxidant enzymes in the liver, hence promoting its efficiency and functioning.
- Pumpkin antioxidants possess anti-inflammatory action, which reduces incidences of related disorders as Arthritis and Aging.
Bladder Health and Urinary Disorders
Pumpkin seeds showed to prevent crystal formation. So, they are beneficial in prevention of bladder stones.
Pumpkin seed oil reduces bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance and reduce urethral pressure.
- Pumpkin benefits cancer patients and also prevents various cancers such as Prostrate, Breast Cancer, and lung cancer, gastric and colorectal cancer.
- Pumpkin fruit extract has been studied to reduce the size of tumors. Pumpkin seeds in specific inhibit the growth of mutant cells.
- They also scavenge and kill the malignant cancerous cells, hence reducing chances of leukaemia.
- Pumpkin seed oil inhibits the growth of various bacteria such as Acinetobacter baumanii, Aeromonas veronii biogroup sobria, Candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, etc.
- Pumpkin seeds have anti-fungal action against Botrytis cinerea, Fusarium oxysporum and Mycosphaerella arachidicola.
- Pumpkin fruit pulp is useful in treatment of gastrointestinal disorders as Diarrhea for its anti-parasitic action.
Pumpkin seeds were found to have high levels of L-tryptophan which can ease depression, remove anxiety, and promote good sleep through increased serotonin levels.
Pumpkin fruit has good concentration of Magnesium and Calcium, which promote neural activity, hence promoting cognition and calmness.
High concentration of Potassium in pumpkin fruit and seeds make it an excellent meal option for heart patients.
- Lowers down bad cholesterol levels and promotes good cholesterol production.
- Prevents atherosclerosis due to high antioxidant concentration, which scavenges off free radicals that damage the arterial walls.
- Increases blood circulation.
Content of nutrients in the pumpkin fruit and seeds have been shown to vary considerably depending on soil type, climatic conditions and genetic variations.
Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, from the flowers, buds, and fleshy shell to the seeds. It is cooked and consumed in many ways and preparation varies according to the region and hence the palate. In the US and Canada, pumpkin is a Halloween and Thanksgiving staple.
The immature fruit is cooked as a vegetable, while the mature fruit is sweet and used to make confectionery and beverages.
In Korea, pumpkin flesh is consumed in soups and juices, or it is incorporated into various foods, such as rice cakes, candies, and breads. In India, pumpkin is stir-fried along with aromatic spices or added to lentils and soups etc. It is also added to flour to make savoury Indian flatbreads – pumpkin Parantha or roti.
Pumpkin flowers are fried with lentils or rice batter to make yummy fritters, which are popular in several parts of India and in Europe.
Pumpkin seeds are used for snacking by coating them with herbs and spices. They are also added to breads, soups, and curries across several parts of the world. Pumpkin seeds oil is rich in oleic acid. In Mexico, pumpkin seeds are used with honey to prepare desserts known as palanquetas.
Pumpkin Benefits and Nutrition – References
- Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review
- Comparison of the chemical compositions and nutritive values of various pumpkin (Cucurbitaceae) species and parts
- Pumpkin Raw Nutritional Value