The most popular material for Jack-O-Lanterns in Halloween season, the favorite ingredient in pies, and the well-known and sought-after vegetable during the fall season is no other than pumpkin. The species is native to Asia but is now cultivated in warm regions of the world. It belongs to the gourd family as well as cantaloupe, cucumber, and squash. The leaves are big and heart shaped, the flowers are yellow and pulpy, and the fruit is spherical green or orange color.
For many, it is a heaven’s gift because of the wonderful health benefits it can give. For some, it is just an ordinary herbaceous plants climbing around the vines, across their backyard. In general, many health characteristics of pumpkin are still unknown to majority. This article will bring to our reader’s attention how a simple pumpkin can turn into a heavenly made vegetable that everyone cannot resist to ignore.
Most highly pigmented yellowish and orange colored vegetables and fruits are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants compound. Carotene is considered as provitamin because it can be converted to active vitamin A which is essential vitamin for the eyes. While the antioxidant component of lutein and zeaxanthin provide nutritional support to our skin, as well as the eyes. They help to counteract the fee radicals and molecules attacking the cell membranes. Free radicals are responsible in a variety of chronic diseases. Moreover, lutein and zeaxanthin are known to their benefits in reducing the risk of macular degeneration and formation of cataract.
Likewise, Vitamin A plays an essential role in vision, reproduction, cell division, and bone growth. On the other hand, the Vitamin B6 is part of the vitamin B complex group known to its function in many aspects of metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, gene expression, and hemoglobin. We can also include the niacin, another part of vitamin B complex that, without its aid, our body may encounter problem to convert the food we eat into energy. As for Vitamin C, it is one of the most salient structural components of tendons, ligaments, bone, and blood vessels. In addition, Vitamin E content found in pumpkin seeds is another anti-oxidant which is vital in the formation of red blood cells and prevent conditions associated in early aging.
The minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc are also found in the pumpkin. For all we know, aside from vitamins, minerals are elements needed by all living organisms including human. Copper is involved in the absorption of iron and supply oxygen to the body. Furthermore, the importance of iron is associated with impairment in learning ability of infants whose mothers are lacking of iron during their pregnancy. While health experts always stress the importance of minerals, magnesium is underestimated. Wherein fact, magnesium plays as an aid in the absorption of calcium, which is responsible in the correct formation of bones and teeth. Same thing goes with phosphorus; it has an impact in bone formation. Not to mention how it helps to regulate fluid levels in the body. Finally, it is also worth to acknowledge the benefits of zinc found in the pumpkin. We are not just aware that zinc is present in every cell in our body because its primary function is to stimulate the biochemical reactions.
Now, if you think that the flesh or the pumpkin meat is where you can get the highest benefits, you may underestimate its full potential. One of the most ignored parts of this wonder fruit can actually give more than enough nutrition. Yes, more than we can ever imagine. It is worth to take note how pumpkin seeds account for so many therapeutic effects it can provide.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds or pepitas are dark green and flat seeds enclosed in a yellow-white husk. Its seeds are loaded with minerals and anti-inflammatory effect. In fact, you can get the seven grams of protein in only ounce of pumpkin seeds. Likewise, pumpkin seed oil is the thick, green red oil produced from roasted pumpkin seeds. In eastern and central Europe, people are using it in cooking. In Austria, the oil is added in their traditional cuisine of potato salad and pumpkin soup. In Vienna, they even made a proposal to add some drops of pumpkin seed oil on vanilla ice cream to get the essential benefits of the vegetable. To give you more idea, here are the seven health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
1. Reduce Prostate Problems
The most interesting of all, pumpkin seed oil can reduce the urination discomfort of men who have prostate problems. There are numerous men who already testified how pumpkin seed oil extract help them with their discomfort. One of the examples of inspiring testimonial is coming from a man in his early 40’s who was diagnosed of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, the swollen prostate in layman’s term. Symptoms start with his trouble when he is starting urinating; his urine flow weakens, he is feeling bloated right after urinating, and his experience of frequent urination especially at night. He tried to take the pumpkin seed oil extract rather than to undergo surgery. The continuous intake pumpkin seed oil extract dramatically reduced the enlargement of his prostate and improved his urinary flow.
To support and validate his claim, there was a study conducted in Hungary wherein 60 patients with benign prostatic hypertrophy were divided into three groups. The first group took Peponen capsules. While prostate health supplement for the second group was given. Lastly, pumpkin seed oil extract for the remaining group was prescribed. As for the result, more than 80% of the patients who took the pumpkin seed oil extract improved their bladder function and reduced the frequency of their night time urination. Therefore, researchers based on their claim to their conclusive findings that pumpkin seed oil extract has significant health effects for patients who have prostate problems.
2. Energy Booster
Pumpkin seeds are also prominent due to its high in zinc nutritional value. In some part of the countries, there are pumpkin bars available in the market and catered for health conscious dieters and people who have hectic schedules. They can enjoy their pumpkin bar snacks which is low in calorie and zero trans fat.
Believe it or not, in China and some parts of Europe, there is a belief that pumpkin seeds are said to be great sex stimulant. The phosphorus content that is critical nutrient for maintaining strong libido can be one factor. Another, the zinc component is the key to sperm production in men and for their healthy functioning prostate, supported by magnesium which is the same key element for optimum sexual function. Therefore, their belief is not merely a street word but there is a conclusive and scientific explanation for their claim.
3. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
The seed oil is high in essential fatty acids (EFA) known as phytosterols which have the ability to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and maintain the proper functioning of blood vessels and tissues. The phytosterols are compounds present in plant that have a chemical structure that is most likely similar to cholesterol. Do not be confused, this type of cholesterol is not damaging but considered as cholesterol-lowering compound that acts to lower the bad cholesterol.
4. Reduce Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of pumpkin seeds have healing benefits for arthritis relief. Many of its nutrients appear to have high amount of zinc which promotes greater bone formation to reduce the swelling in arthritis. Unlike Indomethacin, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for arthritis, pumpkin seeds have no side effect of increasing the level of lipid peroxides or damaged fats which can intensify the symptoms of arthritis.
5. Lessen the Risk of Bladder Stone Disease
Bladder stones are mineral buildups within the bladder and kidney. Treatment options may depend on the size and type of stones and patients with bladder stones must follow special diet low in protein. The natural remedy could be alkalizing foods including pumpkin seed. One of the clinical researches in Thailand found that pumpkin seeds can reduce the risk of bladder stone disease. There is a study in Thailand showed how pumpkin seeds can reduce oxalcrystalluria or the formation of bladder stones with its ability to lessen levels of substances that inhibit stone formation.
6. Best Natural Diuretics
A diuretic or water pill is any medicine that is used to treat conditions such as edema, high blood pressure, and glaucoma. Its function is to make kidneys put more sodium into urine. The sodium takes water with it from the blood and decreases the amount of fluid flowing through the blood vessels. Same effect goes with the consumption of pumpkin seeds, the best natural diuretics, as it removes excess fluids from the body. Fluid retention may lead to bloating and natural diuretic like pumpkin can flush out excess fluids and toxins.
There are various human studies shown that pumpkin seeds can be an alternative medication for intestinal parasites. Traditionally, pumpkin seeds are used as a treatment for roundworms and tapeworms by mashing the seeds into juice then the effect of cleansing will take effect 2-3 hours after drinking the mixed juice. In Asia and Africa, a grown disease of acute schistosomiasis or parasitic disease is treated with the consumption of pumpkin seeds. China already conducted the human studies about the effect of pumpkin against tapeworm infestations.
Have you heard that pumpkin skin can also contribute to health? Just recently, researches showed that the skin contains an antibacterial effect against any kind of microbes that causes yeast infections. Another study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, conducted by Kyung-Soo Hahm, Yoonkyung Park and other researchers from the extracted proteins of pumpkin, they found that it has the potential to inhibit the growth of microbes with no toxic effect, like other antibiotics.
If that is the case, how could we protect ourselves from eating pumpkin skin with the residue of pesticides? As we all know, pesticides used in conventional farming can affect and damage our health and the environment. On the contrary, organic farming employed a process by which crops are raised in a natural method.
Do not worry for there are lots of organic pumpkins available in the market. Although the price is much higher than the conventionally grown pumpkins, rest assured that organic products are free from harmful pesticides and pass the strict health and safety standards of the government.
RECOMMENDED DAILY SERVINGS: A raw pumpkin has 30 calories, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 fat and cholesterol. You can get the complete nutritional value in 1 cup of steamed and drained pumpkin, without salt.
For some, the most common way to eat the seeds is by roasting it for 30 minutes. However, any cooked vegetables tend to lose its complete nutritional values and enzymes. Therefore, you may wish to add the pumpkin seeds in your raw vegetable salad.
After this article presented all the unknown benefits of pumpkin, rest assured that pumpkin will create impact on diet arena. Nevertheless, pumpkin is not just for Jack-O-Lanterns in Halloween season, neither your favorite ingredient in pies, nor the well-known and sought-after vegetable during the fall season. Pumpkin is no other than your best alternative diet for a healthy living with its remarkable contribution to alternative medicine.