Pumpkin Pump House of Health Benefits
Healthy diet is considered to be packed with fruits and vegetables of all kind and has been associated with reduced risk of many life style related disorders like obesity, hypertension and thyroid dysfunction. It is a food which is extremely rich in nutrients like vitamins and minerals and at the same time it is low in calories. Pumpkin is round with smooth, slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange colour. Colour is derived from orange carotenoid pigments including beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha and beta-carotene all of which are Provitamin A compounds converted to Vitamin A in the body. It is a warm weather crop that is usually planted in early July and is grown all over the world. Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. All parts, including the fleshy shell, the seeds and the leaves are edible. Consumption of pumpkin has been found helpful in keeping away diabetes, heart diseases and obesity. It provides protection against asthma and delays aging and body degeneration. It helps in the preservation of bone mineral density and reduction of the formation of kidney stone. It is rich in potassium. Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
Properties of Pumpkin
• It is one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.
• It is rich in dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
• Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
• It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as a, ß-carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin. Carotenes get converted into vitamin-A inside the human body.
• It is one of the vegetables featuring highest levels of vitamin A in the cucurbitaceae family providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural antioxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucosa. It is also an essential vitamin for good eyesight.
• The fruit is a good source of the B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 thiamin and pantothenic acid.
• It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
• Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health.
• Seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted into GABA in the brain, a relaxing neurotransmitter.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
Pumpkin helps in controlling the degenerative changes in eyes. According to the National Institutes of Health, a cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A which promotes good vision, especially in dim light. It has also been found to decline the retinal damage in those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that can lead to blindness. Zea-xanthin found in seeds is a natural antioxidant which has ultra-violet rays filtering actions in the macula lutea of the retina. Therefore, it may offer protection from Age-Related Macular Disease in the older adults.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Pumpkin is rich in potassium. Its consumption is as important as reduction in sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension. Pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens and researches show that it is beneficial for preventing hypertension. The fibre and vitamin C content in pumpkin also support heart health and help control in blood pressure.
3. Prostate & Colon Cancer
Pumpkins are good for prostate health. Research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition has demonstrated a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduction in the occurrence of prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has also been shown to have an inverse association with the development of colon cancer in the Japanese population.
4. Sound Sleep & Good Mood
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, the amino acid that contributes sleepiness. Tryptophan is also responsible for helping the body to make serotonin, which is feel-good neurotransmitter that helps body relax and unwind. Serotonin is important to overall wellness because it is our primary defence against depression and anxiety. So the pumpkin seeds not only promote better sleep but also help improve the mood due to serotonin.
5. Protects Male Libido
Pumpkin seeds are rich in micronutrient Zinc. A quarter cup of the seeds contains about 2.75 mg of zinc which makes about 17 percent of the recommended daily intake for adults. Zinc is essential for male sexual health. A study conducted by Wayne State University study revealed that when young men restricted their dietary zinc intake for twenty weeks, they had significantly lower levels of testosterone.
6. Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids which are good for heart. They prevent deposition of cholesterol in the vessels and prevent atherosclerosis. Thus they are helpful in prevention of the heart diseases.
7. Reduces Cholesterol Level
Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterol and fatty acids especially omega 6 and omega 3 that have been proven to significantly lower the levels of LDL, a bad fat. The seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, a type of omega 3 fatty acid. Eating a diet rich in ALA may help reducing high levels of blood cholesterol. The fatty acid content of the pumpkin seed has the ability to increase the levels of good fat the HDL.
8. Alleviates Anemia
Pumpkin has significant amount of iron and vitamin B12 which support the treatment of anemia. Vitamin B12 is also known to be very effective in treating a rare blood disorder called Sickle cell anemia.
9. Improves Thyroid Function
Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin B2 which is responsible for optimizing thyroid function which is producing, storing and releasing hormones in the blood stream. Deficiency of Vitamin B2 suppresses thyroid function which directly affects the release of other hormones in the body.
10. Burns Fat
Pumpkin is unique in the terms that it has a high nutrient and very low calorie value. With only 26 calories per 100 gm and plenty of fibre, pumpkin will keep one feel full for longer and regulate the blood sugar levels to keep food cravings at bay. Thus it helps eat fewer calories and burn more fat.
Pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.), fresh, Nutritive value per 100 g.
Principle Nutrient Value %age of RDA
Energy 26 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 6.50 g 5%
Protein 1.0 g 2%
Total Fat 0.1 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g 2%
Folates 16 mcg 4%
Niacin 0.600 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.298 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.061 mg 5%
Riboflavin 0.110 mg 8.5%
Thiamin 0.050 mg 4%
Vitamin A 7384 IU 246%
Vitamin C 9.0 mg 15%
Vitamin E 1.06 mg 7%
Vitamin K 1.1 mcg 1%