The Health Benefits of Pumpkins
This beautiful squash is filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, the Vitamin B-complex group including Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid and thiamin, Vitamin K, calcium, copper, fibre, lutein, magnesium, Omega 3’s, phosphorous, phytoserols, potassium, tryptophan, Zea-xanthin and zinc.
Pumpkins are not just for Halloween carving . Health aficionados the world over have embraced this magnificent fruit for its pleasing taste, spectacular versatility in the kitchen and innumerable health benefits including but not limited to:
Anti-cancer properties Adequate fiber in your diet will keep your body flushed out and your colon less likely to come in prolonged contact with potential colon cancer-causing toxins. Vitamin A maintains healthy mucous membranes and can prevent lung cancer and oral cancer. Anti-oxidant Vitamin C, fights off cell-damaging free radicals, repairs tissue and diminishes your chances of developing quite a few forms of cancer including cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, oral cavity cancer, pancreatic cancer, rectal cancer and stomach cancer. Tryptophan produces T-cells, which fight off cancer cells. Vitamin K, lutein and phytoserols also take action to reduce your risk.
Arthritis Pumpkin seed oil has value as an anti-inflammatory agent and is particularly effective against osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Asthma Vitamin C has been successfully shown to reduce typical asthmatic symptoms like wheezing in those afflicted.
Bladder health Eating pumpkin seeds can reduce your chance of developing bladder stones.
Bone / teeth health Vitamin A is crucial for strong teeth. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums. Vitamin C’s other helpful contributions include repairing bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Potassium helps preserve calcium in the bones and proper calcium prevents osteoporosis. The omega fatty acids found in pumpkin also promote good bone health.
Depression Studies have indicated that ingesting pumpkin seeds can prevent depression.
Diabetes Vitamin B6 helps regulate and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Fibre slows down blood sugar absorption. Zinc also assists with insulin regulation. Regular ingestion of lutein has shown promise against Type 2 Diabetes, in particular.
Digestive health Fiber helps you digest your food more effectively and can ease constipation. Magnesium aids in proper bowel function, as well. Potassium can increase metabolism and aid in the productive digestion of carbohydrates.
Eye health Vitamin A supports healthy eye tissue and facilitates higher visual acuity. Vitamin A, lutein and Zea-xanthin protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration. Lutein also has the added benefit of preventing cataracts. Zinc assists vitamin A in creating melanin, a pigment that protects the eye. Proper zinc intake has been shown to award better night vision.
Heart health Pumpkin seed oil can increase HDL, or “good cholesterol,” and decrease LDL, or “bad cholesterol.” The phytoserols in pumpkin also reduce cholesterol. Vitamin C taken on a regular basis can lower blood pressure and fight atherosclerosis. Potassium lowers blood pressure, as well. Magnesium regulates the pumping of the heart and relaxes the blood vessels. Pumpkin is fat-free and cholesterol-free and pretty low in sodium, all good news for the heart
Immune system health Vitamins A, C, E, tryptophan and zinc all support a healthy immune system and can ward off a slew of ailments ranging from the common cold to the flu to the HIV virus
Men’s health Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil are said to thwart prostate enlargement due to their high concentration of zinc. They also assist in healthy sexual functioning.
Menopause Pumpkin seed oil purportedly alleviates some menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, aches and pains and headaches.
Mood Vitamin B-6 produces GABA, an extremely important amino acid that operates as a neuro-transmitter in the central nervous system and results in a general feeling of calm and well-being. Tryptophan produces serotonin, another essential neuro-transmitter that does wonders to elevate mood.
PH balance Potassium regulates and maintains proper pH balance in the body.
Sleep Pumpkin seeds contain a great deal of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin and subsequently melatonin. Melatonin is otherwise known as the “sleep hormone,” so eating a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed can result in a restorative night’s sleep.
Anti-oxidant properties Vitamins A, C and E all have tremendous success fighting the cell-damaging free radicals and oxidative stress that often cause premature aging. All three of these help keep the skin more elastic and radiant, the hair more bouncy and lustrous and the nails more resilient.
Fibre A one-cup serving of mashed pumpkin has a generous 3 grams of fibre, which will keep your stomach feeling full and satisfied and your mind less likely to trick you into those empty calorie snacks between meals. The fibre will also flush out your system more consistently, which results in a more steady weight loss.
Nutritional Intake That same one-cup serving has only 49 calories and is virtually fat-free.
COOKING / CONSUMPTION
Why not try some sweet recipes such as pumpkin, honey & cinnamon pannacotta, pumpkin and coconut ice cream or a twist to puree with chicken stock and a dash of vanilla, If your not feeling that adventures there are some classics below:
Since pumpkin seeds are so nutrient-rich, why not make a big batch of roasted, toasted pumpkin seeds to munch on as a tasty, crunchy snack between meals? All you need to do is gather the seeds, place them on a single layer in a baking pan, drizzle them with some good olive oil, sprinkle with salt and fresh ground black pepper, toss to coat and bake in a 375 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, or until light golden brown.
A wonderful fall of winter appetizer, or meal in and of itself, is a rich, velvety Pumpkin soup. Just saute one small yellow onion and two garlic cloves in a tablespoon of quality olive oil with 450 gms of pumpkin until softened. Sprinkle in one tablespoon of cumin and curry powder and toss gently until the veggies are well coated. Add three cups of chicken broth and simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in one 1 can of coconut cream 2 to 3 minutes. Puree the mix in a blender until it reaches a smooth consistency. Serve while hot in pretty white ceramic bowls with fresh cracked pepper and a smattering of those delicious toasted pumpkin seeds as garnish.
And how could one possibly resist Pumpkin pie? You shouldn’t resist , it can be “skinnified” without sacrificing its rich, creamy lusciousness. Merely make a coconut, ground hazelnut. maple syrup and coconut oil base with a mix of one 2 cups of pumpkin puree, one 2 cups of coconut cream, eight egg whites, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a ½ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg and salt. Bake the pie crust first according to package directions. Then pour in the filling and bake at 175 celcius for about 35 to 40 minutes and serve with a scoop of your favorite brand of coconut yoghurt, a nice dollop.
“Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.” ~Simone Schwarz-Bart