Pumpkin is a fruit replete with nutrients and health benefits. It belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae which also includes gourds. The word pumpkin has originated from Greek word pepon which means large melon. Pumpkins are generally orange in colour due to the presence of beta carotene which protects against heart disease and various cancers. It is one of the most widely field crop cultivated around the world.
Pumpkin can be used in flexible ways for cooking. It can be boiled, steamed or roasted. Many parts of the pumpkin are eatable including the seeds, shell and even the flowers. Pumpkin seed oil made from the seeds is used in salad dressing, pumpkin soup and sometimes even in vanilla ice cream. In different countries, it is cooked in different ways.
■ B Vitamins complex which are required for proper functioning of the cell. These vitamins are also useful for healthy skin and hair.
■ Vitamin A which performs various functions like vision, skin and cellular health, gene transcription, bone metabolism and enhancing immunity.
■ Vitamin C which improves immunity and reduces oxidative stress because of being an effective antioxidant.
■ Vitamin E which is responsible for performing enzymatic activities, gene expression and neurological functions.
PUMPKINS ARE A RICH SOURCE OF MINERALS
Copper: It is vital for the functioning of organs and cannot be formed by the body and therefore should be ingested from nutritional sources. It is essential for growth, development and maintenance of bone, brain and heart. It is also involved in the formation of red blood cells, absorption of iron and synthesis of life supporting proteins. Copper is also essential for the normal growth and development of fetuses.
Calcium: It plays an important role in building strong bones in early life and maintaining them. People who do not have enough calcium are at higher risk for hypertension and blood pressure.
Potassium: It is very important in preventing muscle contraction. It is also important for the functioning of the nerves and maintenance of normal blood pressure. Potassium works with sodium to maintain the water balance of the body.
Phosphorus: It is the second richest mineral found in the body after calcium. It plays an important role in biological molecules like DNA and RNA by forming a part of the structural framework of these molecules. It works closely with calcium to form strong bones and teeth. It also combines with lipids to form phospholipids which are a major component of the cell membranes.
► Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of iron and fiber which help boost the energy and improve heart health respectively.
► These seeds contain tryptophan which are helpful in ensuring a good night sleep.
► Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium which is a necessary component for maintenance of the bones.
► Pumpkin is low in salt and contains zero cholesterol making it suitable for heart patients.
► Seeds are also used to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
By Monalisa Biswal