Would you have thought so? The pumpkin is a berry! Get to know the classic autumn vegetables in three ways with us. Because not only the tasty pulp with its high content of antioxidant beta-carotene can mix up your diet. Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are also valuable foods with healing potential.
Pumpkin – a berry-strong vegetable
The pumpkin shows its many faces not only as a decoration for Halloween but also on the plate. Like the cucumber and the watermelon, the pumpkin belongs to the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae) and is botanically actually a berry. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world.
Species cultivated by humans include, for example, the giant pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), the butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), and the garden pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo). A subspecies of the garden pumpkin is the zucchini.
Well-known pumpkin varieties
The numerous pumpkin varieties differ in their shape, size, and taste:
- Hokkaido (Species: Giant Pumpkin)
- Nutmeg Squash (Species: Musk Squash)
- Butternut or Butternut Squash (Species: Musk Squash)
- Yellow Hundredweight (Species: Giant Pumpkin)
- Spaghetti Squash (Species: Garden Squash)
- Patisson (species: garden squash)
- Ghost Rider (Species: Pumpkin)
The thin-skinned, orange-colored Hokkaido pumpkin in particular enjoys great culinary popularity because you don’t have to peel it. The skin is eaten and tastes just as tender as the flesh.
In addition to the powerfully sweet Hokkaido, the most well-known members of this botanical berry family are the ribbed nutmeg-flavored squash, the pear-shaped butternut with its sweet-nutty flavor, and the heavyweight yellow hundredweight. Their weight ranges from about 50 g (ornamental gourds) to 600 kg (record gourds).
The spaghetti squash got its name because the fibers inside resemble spaghetti. Its taste is rather mild and similar to that of zucchini. The Patisson is usually green, yellow, or white and looks a bit like a UFO, which is why it is also called UFO pumpkin.
Ghost Rider is the type of pumpkin that most people think of when they think of pumpkins. It is the typical orange Halloween pumpkin. The variety was bred for carving and doesn’t taste quite as aromatic as other pumpkin varieties – moreover, the pumpkins are mostly hollow. But they are suitable e.g. B. nevertheless for soups or pumpkin lasagna.
Pumpkins as a shield against diseases
The aromatic pulp of the pumpkins is not only used to prepare delicious dishes such as soups, casseroles, chutneys, cakes, and jams. Their kernels are also a healthy snacking alternative to chips and the like. High-quality pumpkin seed oil is also extracted from their oil.
Whether pulp, seeds, or oil, the pumpkin is rich in many vital substances. Above all, its antioxidants make the vegetable an active protective shield against civilization diseases. Studies have confirmed the preventive and soothing effects of pumpkins on e.g. inflammatory and infectious diseases, cancer, kidney stones, skin diseases, and depression. Good reasons to enjoy the pumpkin season to the fullest.
Pumpkin for diabetes
The low-calorie pumpkin flesh (approx. 26 kcal per 100 g) not only tastes good, but it also provides plenty of filling fiber that supports our digestion and weight loss, eliminates toxins, and balances blood sugar levels. This makes the vegetable an extremely useful choice for diabetics.
As early as 2007, a study by East China Normal University showed that e.g. B. the fig leaf gourd (C. ficifolia) stimulates the renewal of damaged pancreatic cells. The scientists involved concluded that an extract from fig leaf gourd counteracts both pre-cancerous stages of type 2 diabetes and diagnosed diabetes in humans.
A 2009 Japanese study found similar results. A research team from Iwate University confirmed the effectiveness of pumpkin pulp concentrate (from squash) for improved glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Last but not least, pumpkin provides beneficial pancreatic enzymes with a low glycemic load (GL) of just 3.
Pumpkin for failing eyesight
The intense orange of the Hokkaido pumpkin, as well as many other pumpkin varieties, clearly shows that it contains beta-carotene, a plant-based pigment with numerous health benefits.
Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the body if required, and vitamin A in turn is a well-known vitamin for the eyes, bones, and healthy mucous membranes. The good supply of vitamin A and other plant substances (lutein and zeaxanthin) explains the observations of researchers at Colorado State University, according to which the pumpkin can reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Otherwise, this retinal damage leads to severe visual impairment and even blindness.
The vital substances in the pumpkin
Pumpkins contain a number of vital substances in relevant quantities, which means that you can cover a significant part of your daily vital substance requirement with just 150 g of pumpkin vegetables or a soup made from 150 g of pumpkin.
Beta carotene in pumpkin
There is a lot of beta-carotene in the pumpkin, a secondary plant substance from the group of carotenoids. Apart from the fact that beta-carotene – as explained above – can be converted into the valuable vitamin A, it also has extremely healthy effects: beta-carotene has an anti-inflammatory effect, it protects the skin from UV radiation from the inside and supports skin regeneration after sun damage to the skin.
With 1,400 µg per 100 g, 150 g of pumpkin can easily cover the daily requirement of beta-carotene, which is 2,000 µg.
Alpha-carotene is another carotenoid found in abundance in pumpkins. This plant substance also has many health benefits, inhibiting tumor growth, slowing down the aging process, and reducing the risk of cataracts. In addition, carotenoids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve immune function.
A study of over 15,000 people even showed that alpha-carotene can increase lifespan.
Vitamin C is pumpkin
Pumpkins contain around 14 mg of vitamin C, which is 14 percent of the officially recommended daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C fights free radicals and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral effects. The vitamin also stimulates the production of collagen, which is noticeable in the firm and healthy skin. It also strengthens the body in the fight against cancer and supports the immune system.
B vitamins in pumpkin
Some B vitamins (B1, B3, B5, B6) are present in the pumpkin in relevant quantities so 100 g of pumpkin already covers 7 to 11 percent of the respective requirement. These vitamins are important for the nerves, so they help you to deal better with stress, support the metabolism, the immune system, and detoxification – and on top of that ensure a balanced hormone balance.
Potassium is pumpkin
The pulp of pumpkin is rich in potassium (350 mg per 100 g), a mineral that supports heart health and counteracts high blood pressure. The daily requirement for potassium is 4,000 mg, so a 150-gram serving of pumpkin already covers more than 13 percent of it.
Pumpkin seeds: small packets of vital substances for the prostate and bladder
Pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. They also provide high-quality protein and beneficial substances for the prostate and bladder.
Pumpkin seed oil against genetic hair loss
Pumpkin seed oil is a wonderfully tasty edible oil that should only be used for raw food due to its polyunsaturated fatty acids. The fatty acid profile looks like the omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) makes up 50 percent. The other half consists of approximately two-thirds omega-9 fatty acids (monounsaturated oleic acid) and one-third saturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are only contained in small amounts, so the omega-6-omega-3 ratio is not optimal and the pumpkin seed oil should therefore not be consumed in large quantities every day – and if it is, it is equal to omega -3-rich dietary supplements from or with omega-3-rich foods, e.g. B. linseed or linseed oil.