Those wonderful days of autumn are upon us. The season of goodies and goblins is sure to include a pumpkin or jack-o-lantern or two. But, before you trash that sagging pumpkin on your porch, think again. The pumpkin has much more to offer than crooked smiles or a menial filling for holiday pies.
The pumpkin, a member of the Cucurbita family including squash and cucumbers, got its name from the Greek word “pepon” for large melon. Seeds (pepitas) from related plants have been found in Mexico, dating back over 7000 years to 5500 B.C.
Natives uses for pumpkins, isqoutm, or isquotersquash as they were called, varied from function to healing. Not only did they flatten and dry thin strips of pumpkin, making them into mats, but research shows, many Native American tribes were well aware of the pumpkin’s healing properties.
- Yuma tribes created an emulsion from pumpkin seeds and watermelon to help heal wounds. The seed oil was also used to treat burns and wounds.
- Catawabas ate pumpkin seeds either fresh or dry as a medicine for kidney support.
- Menominees mixed powdered squash and water to for urinary support.
- Modern folk healers believe the pumpkin to be beneficial in ridding the body of intestinal worms and also believe the ground stem of the pumpkin brewed into a tea may help ease women during their menstrual cycle
Beta carotene—The rich orange color is a dead give away to the nutrients present in pumpkin. Research shows that people who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene are less likely to develop certain cancers than those who fail to include beta-carotene-rich foods in their diet.
Loaded with Potassium—Studies show people who have a potassium rich diet lower the risk for hypertension. Potassium rich foods include bananas, broccoli, avocados, pomegranate and many others.
Zinc—Not only is zinc a major boost for your immune system, it also aids in bone density support for people at risk for osteoporosis.
High in Fiber—Diets rich in fiber may prevent cancer, heart disease and other serious ailments.
There have been many stories linking the pumpkin seed to a healthy prostate. But what is so special about these little green seeds one might ask. The protective compounds present within the seed of the pumpkin, called phytosterols, may be responsible for shrinking the prostate. They also contain chemicals that may prevent some transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of DHT are associated with enlarged prostate.
For BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or enlarged prostate) prevention, eating a handful (about 1 ounce) of shelled pumpkin seeds three times a week is recommended.
Anti-Inflammatory Benefits in Arthritis
Unlike the widely used anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin, pumpkin seeds do not increase damaged fat levels in the lingus joints, a common side effect associated with indomethacin which contributes to the progression of arthritis.
Great on your skin
Pumpkins contains lots of anti-oxidant vitamins A and C, as well as zinc and alpha-hydroxy-acids which helps to reduce the signs of aging.
Whether age old remedies have ultimate healing powers or not the nutrients present in just one serving of pumpkin are a testament to the health benefits of this timeless fruit.
Here are the stats on what’s in one cup of pumpkin puree:
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)
- Calories 49
- Protein 2 grams
- Carbohydrate 12 grams
- Dietary Fiber 3 grams
- Calcium 37 mg
- Iron 1.4 mg
- Magnesium 22 mg
- Potassium 564 mgZinc 1 mg
- Selenium .50 mg
- Vitamin C 12 mg
- Niacin 1 mg
- Folate 21 mcg
- Vitamin A 2650 IU
- Vitamin E 3 mg