In addition to flavors, pumpkin also provides us with many valuable ingredients. Her seeds are one of the best sources of zinc. In which parts of the world is the pumpkin the most popular? What benefits does it bring to her diet?
Pumpkin – history
Pumpkin belongs to the annual plants of the cucurbits family. The English name pumpkin (pumpkin) comes from the Greek word pepon, which means a big melon. It is grown on almost all continents, but Morton, Illinois, is considered the pumpkin heart of the world. In 1978, the state governor proclaimed Morton the pumpkin capital of the world. That’s where the Morton Pumpkin Festival takes place every year since the sixties of the last century. It lasts four days and each time the venture is accompanied by a chosen theme.
Already a few thousand years ago, the pumpkin was one of the main elements of the diet of Native Americans. Found in today’s Mexico, pumpkin seeds date back to 7,000 BC. Pumpkin was used not only as a food product. Of the dried flattened pieces, the Americans produced mats. Pumpkin seeds have also been used for medicinal purposes, including in the case of ailments such as prostatic hypertrophy, gastroenteritis, liver and kidney disease or difficult to heal wounds. Pumpkin was also symbolic. Young marriages were wary of entering the pumpkin field before the arrival of the first offspring in the world.
Pumpkin – nutritional values
Nutritional value in 100 g of pumpkin
– 26 kcal energy,
– 1 g protein,
– fats 0,1 g,
– 6.5 g carbohydrates,
– fiber 0.5 g,
– calcium 21 mg,
– iron 0,8 mg,
– magnesium 12 mg,
– potassium 340 mg,
– vitamin A 8513 IU.
Pumpkin pulp contains innumerable vitamins and minerals. When choosing a pumpkin, we should therefore be guided by the color of the skin – it is best to choose ripe and orange vegetables because these contain the most vitamin B1, niacin and beta-carotene.
Pumpkin does not lose its valuable values in the thermal treatment process. This is extremely important, considering how high the dose of carotenoids is provided by its hundred-gram piece. Each pumpkin variety is a low-calorie and nutritious product, but the varieties differ from each other.
Pumpkin – varieties
Currently, we can enjoy easy access to all varieties of this vegetable. In autumn, on store shelves, we find a Polish (classic giant) pumpkin, Japanese (Hokkaido), Lunga di Napoli, nutmeg, macaroni, and musk. Hokkaido pumpkin is recommended to all housewives who value fast and not too laborious dishes. This variation can be eaten with the skin, which softens under the influence of high temperature. The taste of this pumpkin is slightly nutty. It is suitable for preparing dishes that are usually made from pumpkin – soups, cakes, and salads.
Lunga di Napoli from Italy is a variety that can be eaten raw even in salads or juice. It’s also great for soups and risottos. It’s easy to distinguish it from other varieties because it is green and more reminiscent of zucchini than a pumpkin.
Pumpkin Muscat de Provance (pumpkin or French pumpkin) can also be eaten raw, has a dark green crust, which can sometimes turn into bile and orange. Unlike Lunga di Napoli, it has no longitudinal shape, but a traditional round one. The taste is a bit sweet. It has a wide application in the kitchen – suitable for soups and sauces. Pumpkin pasta is characterized by its oblong shape, and its skin has a yellow or yellow-green color. The pulp of this pumpkin under the influence of thermal processing is separated into macaroni threads. Such pasta tastes great in combination with sauce, vegetables or as an addition to salads.
However, the most interesting in terms of aesthetics is the butternut pumpkin (pumpkin butternut) taking the form of a pear. Her skin is pale. It does not contain too many seeds, thanks to which we keep the majority of the pulp. Like the rest, it’s perfect for all pumpkin recipes. Each of the varieties offers unique flavor notes. It’s best to try them all and choose your favorite one.
Pumpkin seeds – nutritional values
Nutritional value of 100 g pumpkin seeds
– 446 kcal energy,
– 18.55 g protein,
– fat 19.4 g,
– carbohydrates 53.75 g,
– fiber 18.4 g,
– calcium 55 mg,
– 3.31 mg iron,
– magnesium 262 mg,
– potassium 919 mg,
– 10.3 mg zinc.
Pumpkin seeds in 30-40% consist of oil-rich mainly in unsaturated fatty acids and phytosterols. Therefore, the consumption of seeds can prevent the deposition of cholesterol deposits in the tissues. Also, the seeds are a valuable source of zinc.
Demand for this element is particularly high during adolescence. It also grows during pregnancy and lactation. The average daily requirement for adult zinc is 9 mg. 50 g of pips satisfies half of this amount! Especially for men, it is important to ensure an adequate supply of zinc. Its deficiencies may result in reduced libido and decreased semen quality. Zinc is an important component of many enzymes, including so-called zinc fingers, whose abnormal functioning or deficiency may result in azoospermia (lack of spermatozoa in the ejaculate). Zinc levels are often reduced in men with low testosterone levels. Properly selected supplementation can help in this case also the hormonal balance. The more sexually active a man is, the more zinc he needs.
Pumpkin seeds as a natural supplement will work perfectly in this case. They also provide other extremely important elements, e.g. potassium. Potassium is a key element supporting the work of the heart, which has a positive effect on blood pressure. Its deficiency may increase the risk of hypertension and kidney stones. Since it is removed from the body by the kidneys, its consumption should be controlled by people suffering from chronic kidney disease.
Pumpkin seeds – a measure for prostate hypertrophy
The prostate, or prostate gland, is an element of the male reproductive system. With the age of 40, he begins to increase in size, and 80% of men over 80 years of age have symptoms that are a consequence of this phenomenon. These include, for example, problems with passing urine or sexual dysfunctions. There have been numerous studies indicating the beneficial effect of consuming pumpkin seeds or their extract on eliminating the above symptoms, including nocturia (the need to urinate at night).
It is believed that this beneficial effect of pumpkin seeds is associated with the content of fatty acids, including linoleic acid and alpha-tocopherol with anti-inflammatory properties. Besides, they also contain amino acids – arginine and glutamine, which indirectly can regulate the functions of the bladder by creating neurotransmitters interacting in the nervous system. In Italy, plant preparations are used in almost 50% of cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia. It will not hurt to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your daily diet in case of minor problems associated with prostatic hypertrophy. It is worth noting that no side effects were observed in the studies.
Pumpkin, pumpkin seeds – how to store
Properly stored pumpkin can remain useful for up to 2 months. It must be provided with appropriate conditions – leave in a cool (about 15 ° C), dry and airy room. Pumpkin can also be frozen with success. Just cut it into cubes and put it into freezing bags. In this form, you can store it for a year. Remember to save the date of freezing on the bag.
Pumpkin seeds remain durable even up to 5 years. To give them an even better taste, before putting them in a jar, they can be seasoned and baked. 2 cups of cleaned pumpkin seeds should be spread on baking paper, pour with a spoon of melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with salt as desired. Then put in the oven and dry at a temperature of about 100 ° C, stirring occasionally to prevent adherence to the paper.
Pumpkin and its seeds are undoubtedly a healthy rarity. It is worth remembering pumpkin seeds every day. They will work great in salads, cocktails or as an independent snack. Enjoy your meal!