Pumpkin is a vegetable crop belonging to the cucurbitaceae family. This family contains chemicals, including tetracyclic triterpenes, saponins, proteins, fibers, polysaccharides and minerals (iron, zinc, manganese, copper, etc). It is edible and tastes great. In the Southeastern part of Nigeria, pumpkin fruits and leaves are used as vegetables for cooking vegetable yam, yam porridge and draw soup. They are soft when cooked and slimy to touch.
Pumpkin fruits are also edible and used in a variety of ways in preparing dishes, such as porridge yam. The fruit is yellow inside but greenish outside, which fades into greenish ash color when mature.
The seed of pumpkin has been studied extensively due to its nutritional and medicinal benefits. Pumpkin seed oil is highly rich in oleic, linoleic, palmitic and stearic acids. Aside these, it also contains vitamins and minerals, which are needed for proper body functioning.
Benefits of pumpkin fruits and seeds
Being rich in several B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin C, pumpkin is one food you cannot despise. It is also fortified with essential amino acids and minerals that are beneficial to your health.
Pumpkin fruits and seeds suppress cancer proliferation
As we all know, cancer is a pathological condition in which there is uncontrolled proliferation of tumor cells. Cancer is malignant meaning it usually invade neighboring cells and tissues. Many fruits and vegetables have been reported to possess anticancer properties. Pumpkin fruits and seeds have also possess anti-tumor and anticarcinogenic properties.
It has been reported that the juice of pumpkin fruit can inhibit tumor growth. Also, some proteins, such as MAP2 and MAP4, have been isolated from pumpkin seeds and reported to inhibit melanoma proliferation. In another study, carotenoids from pumpkin fruits were linked to the prevention of prostate cancer.
The anticancer properties of pumpkin fruits and seeds make it a good alternative nutrition for cancer prevention and growth suppression. Diets high in pumpkin seeds have also been associated with lower risk of gastric, breast, lung and colorectal cancers.
May be useful in treating diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is one of the increasing cause of death world over. It is a medical condition in which there is high sugar level in your blood. This may be caused by two factors, which are, the destruction of the pancreatic cells. This destruction of the cells of the pancreas results in little or no insulin production. This condition is termed type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The second factor is insulin insensitivity to the cells. This is termed type 2 or insulin independent diabetes mellitus.
While most researchers focused on the type 1 diabetes, using alloxan to induce the destruction of pancreas, and then proceed to treat same, few pay attention to type 2 diabetes. Luckily, local healers have advocated the use of pumpkin fruit juice to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus.
In several studies, however, various bioactive compounds in both the fruits and seeds of pumpkin have been shown to lower high blood glucose levels in diabetic animals. Some suggest that the mechanism of this activity may be through increased insulin secretion of from the pancreatic cells or insulin release from the bound form. Others suggest the inhibition of beta-glucosidase and alpha-amylase.
It would be beneficial to eat pumpkin regularly. This would help prevent the onset of diabetes and also, in a case where an individual is diabetic already, help in reducing blood sugar level by increasing insulin secretion and enhancing it sensitivity to the body.
Pumpkin fruits and seeds are good for hypertension
Both the fruits and seed oil of pumpkin possess hypotensive properties. This may be due to the high potassium content in the fruit extract and essential oils in the seeds. Some studies have shown that pumpkin inhibits angiotensin 1-converting enzyme. Another study suggest that the seed oil of pumpkin may exert its hypotensive properties through the nitric oxide (NO) pathway.
Whatever the pathway, the most important thing is that studies have supported the claim that pumpkin fruits and seeds can be used to lower high blood pressure in hypertensive patients.
May lower your cholesterol levels
Pumpkin seeds are packed with different unsaturated fatty acids which are beneficial to the body. Unsaturated fatty acids are the good fats while saturated ones are not good for the body; in fact, they are harmful to your body. Aside those good fats, the seeds also possess phytosterols, among which is the lipid lowering beta- Sitosterol. The lipids in the seeds are resistant to oxidation due to some accompanying antioxidants.
Phytosterol supplementation reduces cholesterol level by inhibiting cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. This is done by modulating transformation of bile acids into secondary bile acids, and reducing the hydrophobic/hydrophilic ratio. One other important of the seed oil is in the increase of HDL and decrease of LDL, and triglycerides. High HDL helps in preventing the onset of atherosclerosis.
May improve your heart health
A 100g of pumpkin seeds contain at least 419 mg tocopherols, including 177mg of δ-Tocopherol, 128 mg of α-Tocopherol, and 114 mg of γ-Tocopherol. These are heart-friendly bioactive compounds. They protect the heart through their antioxidation properties, and prevents the formation of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.
The seeds also contains linoleic, oleic and palmitic acids which are good fats and strengthen the functions of the heart by mopping up low density lipoproteins, which cause plaque formation on the arterial walls, leading the increased blood pressure and atherosclerosis. The pumpkin fruits are rich in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, which are beneficial to the heart.
May improve your eyesight
Pumpking fruits are rich in vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin which protects your eyes and improve vision.
Benefits of pumpkin fruits and seeds for boosting your immunity
Pumpkin fruits and seeds, including seed oil are rich in antioxidants and several other bioactive phytochemicals. These compounds suppress the harmful effects of free radicals, pro-inflammatory compounds and preserve your organs. They also boost your immune systems against any disease pathogens.
When your immunity is strong, you would become resistant to certain infectious diseases, which others may fall for.
Pumpkin fruits contain iron, which plays beneficial role in the production of hemoglobin and myoglobin. Iron is also beneficial for the transportation of oxygen to various parts of the body.
May enhance your skin health
Pumpkin fruits are loaded with tocopherols and other antioxidants. These compounds protect your skin from inflammatory agents. Vitamin E also protects your skin from the harmful effect of UV-exposure. With the antioxidants scavenging free radicals in your body, your skin would look youthful and glowing, due to the vitamin E and vitamin C present in pumpkin.
Helps you build stronger bones
Pumpkin is loaded with calcium and vitamin D, which helps in building strong bones. The iron present in pumpkin helps fight bone resorption and osteoporosis. Iron deficiency has been reported to be an emerging risk factor for osteoporosis. What this means is that when you consume pumpkin fruits and seeds, you are actually protecting your bones from this deficiency disease.
Benefits of pumpkin fruits fertility in men
Vitamin E helps protect the sperm’s cell membrane from oxidative damages. But that’s not all; it also improves sperm motility. And vitamin C, which is also present in pumpkin helps to regenerate vitamin E. This way, the two vitamins work to improve sperm health.
Another compound of interest in pumpkin fruits is folate. Folate helps in improving sperm count and functions. Folate and zinc has been shown by studies to help improve men’s fertility and sperm health, and the deficiency of folate may result in a poor sperm DNA.
Since pumpkin is rich in vitamin C vitamin E, folate and zinc, including the B vitamins, it would can be said that regular consumption of pumpkin would boost men’s fertility.
Read also (Goron Tula: 11 health benefits of snot apple)
Benefits of pumpkin fruits help in pregnancy
Vitamin E also help in pregnancy. It fights free radical and maintain red blood cell level in a pregnant mother. This also help in keeping the fetus in a healthy state. The folate in pumlkin helps in the formation of neural tube during early pregnancy. Folate also helps prevent some health defects that may affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord. This is also boosted by the B vitamins that are present in pumpkin fruits and seeds.
Read also (10 Amazing health benefits of drinking thyme tea)
It could be boldly stated that pumpkin is an ideal food for pregnant and breast feeding mothers.
May help you fight depression and sleep well
Pumpkin helps you enjoy a better sleeping hour. This is because it is richly supplied with tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can be converted to serotonin. Serotonin is the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps you fight depression, relieve you of stress and makes you feel settled and fall asleep faster.
Pumpkin fruits may help prevent constipation
Aside being rich in various nutrients, pumpkin fruits and seeds are rich source of fiber. Fiber helps in prevention and treatment constipation, and other intestinal diseases. Fiber also solidify faeces in people suffering diarrhoea, and stops a running stomach.
Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of spermidine
If you have heard of spermidine supplements, or longevity, you’d surely appreciate the pumpkin fruits and seeds. The more interesting thing about this is the fact that pumpkin contains more spermidine than mushrooms by as much as twice.
Spermidine possess several benefits, which includes all that we have mentioned above. It prolongs longevity and maintain a youthful skin.
With spermidine, your body may undergo sutophagy. Renewing your life and prolonging it.
It helps to improve diabetes condition and protects the heart from the adverse effects of oxidative stress.
Due to its enormous health benefits, it is recommended that you should eat pumpkin fruits and seeds on a regular basis. However, for someone who is suffering any form of kidney diseases, pumpkin may be wise not to eat pumpkin much. This is because pumpkin contain high amount of potassium. When your kidney cannot process and excrete excess potassium, they accumulate in your body and result in a disease known as Hyperkalemia.
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MAJID, Azmat Khalid, AHMED, Zaheer and KHAN, RezzanEffect of pumpkin seed oil on cholesterol fractions and systolic/diastolic blood pressure. Food Science and Technology [online]. 2020, v. 40, n. 3 [Accessed 11 August 2022] , pp. 769-777. Available from: <https://doi.org/10.1590/fst.03720>. Epub 07 Aug 2020. ISSN 1678-457X. https://doi.org/10.1590/fst.03720.
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