The fruit of these large pod plants, so associated with the harvest, belongs to the family of the Cucurbitaceae, or cucumbers.
The two most important types are the “pepo,” which is how scientists nicknamed the “small” pumpkins that are carved like skulls in the fall, and the “maximum,” the massive variety that competes in contests. For “the largest pumpkin.” At field fairs.
Also called sugar gourds, the former are orange in color with broad wedge sections, which grow close to the ground in large serpentine pods with fan-like leaves.
Pumpkins rarely weigh more than 20 to 25 pounds and can be harvested much smaller, but the larger they are, the more edible content they have. These are also the ones that produce edible seeds. The latter, also called Mammoth, are cousins of winter squash like Hubbard. Its orange color has a slight pinkish or gray tinge, and its body often swells where it touches the ground.
The hollow center of the squash is filled with semi-white seeds clinging to a pulp.
After you cut your squash in half lengthwise, the pulp can be thrown away after saving the seeds (if you wish). These are a great source of vitamins, minerals, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids and can be dried and salted as a homemade snack or saved for planting in the spring. With one bunch, you can make a field full of orange beauties.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin
The only difference between 100 grams of raw or cooked pumpkin is a six-calorie increase in raw form. So, where do the nutrients come from?
They are in the vitamins and minerals, including large amounts of fiber and 100% of the required daily value of vitamin A. Pumpkins also provide a lot of vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese. There is less quantity and significance of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
What does that mean to us? Its orange color is a sign of the presence of a particularly beneficial phytonutrient: carotene. This is converted into vitamin A in the body, giving a good injection of antioxidants with the ability to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and many of the degenerative effects of aging.
Vitamin A is also necessary for good vision and helps prevent lung and mouth cancer. Flavonoids such as cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin destroy harmful free radicals, and the latter, in particular, helps protect the eye’s retina from macular degeneration.
Pumpkin seeds are not only a tasty and easy-to-transport snack, but we could also say that they are a concentrated source of minerals and vitamins, with 30 grams of protein, 110% of the daily value in iron, and 559 calories, but without cholesterol, which is excellent for cardiovascular health. Fiber helps maintain regular elimination and keep the colon clean.
A special extra of the pumpkin seed is the amino acid tryptophan, which, once in the brain, is converted to GABA – a nutrient that relaxes the body calms the nerves, improves sleep, and transmits signals between neurons.
Pumpkin Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), raw Amount Per
Calories from Fat 1
Total Fat 0 g 0%
Saturated Fat 0 g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1 mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6 g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 2%
Sugar 1 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 148% Vitamin C 15%
Calcium 2% Iron 4%
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your values may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.
Studies Conducted on Pumpkin
The dietary consumption of lycopene and other carotenoids inhibited prostate cancer in studies with 130 patients with the disease and 274 healthy inpatients.
Prostate cancer risk declined with increased consumption of lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin – all found in pumpkin.
Consumption of cantaloupe, citrus fruits, and three vegetables, including squash, were also associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.1
A University of Massachusetts study related to obesity, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, and hypertension, higher in North America than anywhere else, was linked to dietary changes related to high-calorie foods like sugar, refined flour, and sugary drinks.
Pumpkins, beans, and corn were reviewed as potential phenolic phytochemicals and found to reverse diabetes and hypertension positively. The pumpkin showed the best potential.
The pumpkin or andaí, as we know it in our country, apart from being very versatile when preparing dishes, it provides excellent benefits to those who consume it. Owner of a unique and sweet flavor, it provides vitamins and minerals, which are necessary to maintain good health. It provides fiber, omega 3, magnesium, and zinc; it also strengthens the immune system, prevents and helps with constipation problems because it is rich in fiber. It improves the cardiovascular system, helps prevent diabetes, and is considered a powerful antioxidant due to its beta-carotene content, which is found in orange fruits and vegetables, and when the body processes it, it converts it into vitamin A, helping to care for the skin and to keep the body’s immune system in good condition against flu-like symptoms.
Pumpkin is suitable for everyone and can be included in any diet, says nutritionist Ada Escobar. “This will depend on the taste of each one. It can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes, and you can make pumpkin soups, cakes, the well-known life, which is a traditional Paraguayan dish, compotes, soufflé, roast and use it to accompany meat and fish, or add it as a complement to stews. Or pasta”, he indicates and adds that it is recommended that people with diabetes consume it since it contains a moderate glycemic index.
For the professional, it is advisable to consume the pumpkin for all the benefits it provides. She indicates that a diet should be complete and varied, so a good supply of fruits and vegetables will enhance good health due to good nutrition. “It is advisable to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to prevent diseases,” she says.
Chef Pamela Rodríguez teaches how to prepare delicious pumpkin cupcakes with super easy steps.
Ingredients: 200 grams of flour, 180 grams of sugar, two eggs, 150 grams of butter, and zest of an orange.
- Beat butter with sugar until you get a white cream.
- Add the eggs one by one and the orange zest.
- Add the pumpkin puree (previously cooked) and finally the self-rising flour gently until all the ingredients of the recipe are integrated, place in liners, and take to a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes.
VERSATILE. Fruit or vegetable? Both! Pumpkin has been used for a long time in delicious dishes, providing various benefits to the body.
Suitable for babies
Pumpkin can be included in the complementary diet of infants from six months since for them, and it also has the same benefits. It is essential to respect the baby’s age when introducing food. It should be from six months of age, not before, since the child’s digestive system is still developing, so the incorporation of food should be gradual and progressive.