Pumpkin nutrition facts
Pumpkin is incredibly rich in vital anti-oxidants and vitamins. This humble backyard vegetable is very low in calories yet good source of vitamin A, flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants like leutin, xanthins and carotenes.
The plant is a "vine", creeps on the surface in a similar fashion like that of other members of the cururbitaceae family such as cucumber, squash, cantaloupes...etc. It is one of the most popular vegetable that is grown as commercial field crop all over the world including in the USA.
Pumpkins vary greatly in shape, size and colors. Giant pumpkins generally weigh 4–6 kg with the largest capable of reaching a weight of over 25 kg. Golden nugget pumpkins are flat, smaller in size and have sweet creamy orange color flesh.
Although pumpkins, in general, feature orange or yellow color, some fruits are dark to pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray. Rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed. Color of pumpkins is due to yellow-orange pigments in their skin and pulp.
In structure, the pulp feature golden-yellow to orange color depending up on the poly-phenolic pigments in it. The fruit has hollow center, with numerous small, off-white colored seeds interspersed in the net like structure. Pumpkin seeds are great source of protein, minerals, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
Health benefits of Pumpkin
It is one of the vegetables which is very low calories; provides just 26 cal per 100 g and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; but is rich a source of dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. 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.
With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetable in the cucurbitaceae family with highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for vision. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A helps body protect against lung and oral cavity cancers.
It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as ? and ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in reitina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from "age related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly.
Rich in B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Pumpkin seeds are good source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids which are good for heart health. In addition, they are very good in protein, minerals and many health benefiting vitamins. For example 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 cal, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc... but no cholesterol. The seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0.5 g||2%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.298 mg||6%|
|Vitamin A||7384 IU||246%|
|Vitamin C||9.0 mg||15%|
|Vitamin E||1.06 mg||7%|
|Vitamin K||1.1 mcg||1%|
Selection and storage
Pumpkins are readily available in the markets year around. Buy well grown whole pumpkin instead of sections. Look for mature product that feature fine woody note on tapping, heavy in hand and stout stem. Avoid the one with wrinkled surface, cuts and bruises.
Once at home, fully ripen pumpkin can be stored for many weeks at cool, well ventilated place at room temperature. However, cut sections should be placed inside the refrigerator where it keep well for few days.
Preparation and serving methods
Some hybrid varieities are usually subjected to insecticide powder or spray. Therefore, wash them thoroughly in running water in order to remove dust, soil and any residual insecticides/fungicides.
Cut the stem end and slice the whole fruit into two equal halves. Remove central net like structure and set aside seeds. Then cut into desired sizes. In general, small cubes are used in cooking preparations.
Almost all the parts of the pumpkin plant; fruit, leaves, flowers and seeds, are edible.
Here are some serving tips:
- Pumpkin can be used in variety of delicious recipes either baked, stew fried; but eaten best by steam cooking in order to get maximum nutrients. In China, the leaves of this plant are consumed as a cooked greens or in soups.
- In the Indian subcontinenet where it is popular as "sitaphal", used in the preparation of "sabzee", sweet dishes, soups, curries...etc.
It can also be used in the preparations of pies, pancakes, custard, ravioli...etc.
- Golden nugget pumpkins are used to make wonderful souffles, stuffing, soups...etc.
- Roasted Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) can be used as snacks.
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