Not only are the brightly colored pumpkins a delight for our taste buds, these versatile vegetables are also armed enough to pack a powerful nutrition punch. Pumpkin belongs to the cucurbitaceae family along with zucchini, cucumber, gourds and melons. Depending on the presence of pigments in the skin and pulp, pumpkins or kaddu in hindi are usually orange or yellow colored but may also exhibit green, grey or red outer skin colors. They are enjoyed worldwide in endless recipes ranging from breads, pies and puddings to soups, curries, ravioli, pancakes and juices.
Here are the top 5 reasons to pick up this healthy backyard favorite and place it on our kitchen tables.
1) Low Calorie and Fiber dense
100 gm of pumpkin contains just 25-30 calories. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, B complex vitamins, folates and essential minerals such as copper, zinc, calcium and phosphorus.
2) Heart Healthy
While cooking pumpkins at home, it is imperative that we don’t discard their super nutritious seeds. The pumpkin seeds are amongst the richest sources of heart friendly mono unsaturated fatty acids, health promoting zinc and antioxidant vitamin E. The seeds contain an amino acid called tryptophan which plays a crucial role in blood sugar regulation and brain functioning. Simply roast the seeds on a hot skillet or in a microwave for 10-15 minutes and relish them as snacks or in your smoothies.
3) Good for eyes and skin
The appealing orange color reveals the abundance of carotenoids and polyphenolic compounds in pumpkins. Along with beta carotenoids (a whopping 7356 mg of Vitamin A per 100 gm), pumpkins also contain flavonoid compounds such as lutein, cryptoxanthein and zea xanthins that possess strong anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting attributes. The free radical scavenging properties of these compounds ensure a drastic reduction in age related eye problems while keeping our skin glowing and wrinkle free.
4) Provides Potassium Boost
Potassium is needed to maintain optimum electrolyte balance and improve muscular strength and activity. Including a cup of cooked pumpkin provides approx 550 mgs of potassium (much higher that 415 mgs in bananas and 470mgs in sweet potatoes), an amount enough to restore the lost electrolytes post workouts or re fuel our energy stores after a hard day’s work.
5) Role in Cancer Prevention
Being a concentrated source of cancer busting vitamin A, C and E; pumpkins help protect against infections and prevent certain types of cancers and pre- cancerous conditions.
Written by Panchali Moitra, originally published in BPositive Magazine.