Pumpkins are a large family of plants. They can be annual or perennial, giant or tiny, edible or technical, which are used to make dishes. The vegetable, which in Europe is called pumpkin, belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo (common pumpkin). It also includes zucchini and squash. Butternut squash is a different species, Cucurbita moschata.
- The facts
- Calorie content
- Benefits of pumpkin
- Pumpkin damage
- How to cook
What you need to know about pumpkin
Edible pumpkin varieties have spread around the world from America, where they were grown in prehistoric times. (1). In Eurasia, only technical varieties were in use, from which bottles and flasks were made.
Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. This holiday commemorates an episode of early American history in which the pumpkin played a key role. In November 1620, the first British Puritan ship landed on the New England coast. The settlers, whose descendants became the core of the American nation, would hardly have been able to survive if Native Americans had not shared with them the secrets of agriculture. Having successfully survived the first year, the colonists held a holiday, to which they invited the Indians as a sign of gratitude. The main dish on the table was pumpkin pudding.
Pumpkin appeared in Europe and Europe in the 16th century. Quite quickly, the vegetable gained popularity and by the 18th century it had become one of the most popular crops in the European South and the Caucasus.
Today, pumpkins grow all over the world. Breeders have developed hundreds of varieties that differ greatly in appearance, taste and nutritional content.
According to Yulia Zhilina, pumpkin retains the most beneficial substances when baked. Also, some varieties, most notably butternut squash, can be eaten raw, such as in a salad.
Types of pumpkin
There are three major classes of agricultural pumpkins, each of which is divided into dozens of varieties.
The nutmeg pumpkin is considered the healthiest. Its pulp is juicy and sweet (about 10% sugar). The vegetable can be either round and green (for example, varieties “Vitaminnaya”, “Bylinka”), or similar to zucchini (“Miracle Yudo”). But most often in stores you can find orange butternut squash in the shape of a bottle or pear (“butternut”, “New”). Butternut squash grows in warm climates, so only a few varieties ripen in Europe.
The most extensive class of pumpkins. They can be very sweet and contain up to 15% sugar. At the same time, the plants are much less capricious; they can be grown in central Europe. Despite the name, not all varieties reach large sizes. Most varieties of large-fruited pumpkins are orange and round (“Rossiyanka”, “Sweetie”). There are also varieties with greenish-gray skin (“Altair”, “Valok”).
This type gets its name because of its thick and tough skin. The pulp of the fruits of these varieties is the least juicy and sweet, but it absorbs the flavors of spices, oil and other ingredients well. Therefore, you can cook interesting dishes from it. According to Yulia Zhilina, hard-rind pumpkins contain the most dietary fiber. In addition, they have the most delicious seeds.
Most often, hard-barked pumpkin is yellow-green and oblong, reminiscent of a zucchini, only more rounded (“Khutoryanka”, “Gribovskaya”), but there are also round orange varieties (“Altaiskaya”, “Almond”). From a botanical point of view, zucchini is also a hard-boiled pumpkin. In English, both vegetables are called squash, and butternut squash and pumpkins are called pumpkin.
Nutritional value and calorie content of pumpkin
“Pumpkin can be called a healthy food product without any reservations,” says Yulia Zhilina. — Its beneficial properties are due to the high content of fiber, which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and protein. There is almost no fat and starch in it.”
Benefits of pumpkin: 8 properties
Pumpkin is rich in vitamins. This vegetable is one of the record holders for its content. vitamin A and its precursor carotene. Pumpkin also contains a lot of vitamin C, and almost all B vitamins are present. All this makes it a product that is good for the skin, eyes and cardiovascular system. Some research suggests that pumpkin may be beneficial for diabetes.
1. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants
The Native American pumpkin saved early American settlers not only from starvation, but also from scurvy, which is associated with a lack of vitamin C, and from eye diseases that can be caused by a deficiency of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and healthy skin. In addition, it is needed by pregnant and lactating women. Carotene, the main plant source of vitamin A into which it is converted once in the body, is named after carrots. However, pumpkin contains about five times more.
Vitamin C is needed by many systems in our body. It strengthens the immune system, protects the skin from solar radiation, is good for the heart and blood vessels and helps absorb iron.
In addition, both vitamins are powerful antioxidants that protect our body from premature aging.
2. Normalizes heart function
Contained in pumpkin Fiber, potassium and vitamin C support cardiovascular health.
To take care of your heart and blood vessels, it is important to control your sodium levels. This mineral, which we get mainly in the form of salt, increases blood pressure. However, a large 2017 study showed that it is equally important to consume enough potassium, which, on the contrary, lowers blood pressure (2). Pumpkin is an affordable food that is high in this mineral.
3. Protects eyesight
A 2019 experiment by scientists from the US National Eye Institute found that a cocktail of vitamin E, vitamin C and carotene, all of which are found in pumpkin, supports eye health and significantly reduces the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related disease that can lead to severe deterioration or loss of vision (3).
Pumpkin contains lutein and its isomer zeaxanthin, which also protect the eyes from ultraviolet rays and degenerative diseases. (4). In order for these substances to be better absorbed from pumpkin, it should be eaten together with vegetable fats, for example seasoned with olive oil.
4. Improves skin condition
The beneficial substances contained in pumpkin protect the skin. Beta-carotene is sometimes called a natural sunblock – its molecules absorb ultraviolet radiation and reduce tissue damage (5). Vitamin C is involved in the production of collagen, a substance that makes our skin firm, elastic and strong (6).
5. May Help Control Sugar in Diabetes
A 2019 study by a group of Chinese doctors found that a mixture of plant extracts—pumpkin polysaccharides and pueraria root extract—lowered blood sugar levels in mice (7). The study did not involve humans, but it showed the potential of these substances to reduce the burden of disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Useful during pregnancy
“Pumpkin dishes can be safely recommended to pregnant women,” comments Yulia Zhilina. “It contains a considerable amount of folic acid, which helps the body perform many functions. This is a function of hematopoiesis, DNA protection, which is especially important at the stage of pregnancy planning, and the prevention of blood clots. Folic acid also ensures normal intrauterine development of the fetus.”
7. Strengthens the immune system
Pumpkin pulp and seeds are rich in nutrients that enhance the protective functions…