Traditional pies and jack-o’-lanterns are the products of October pumpkins, but that’s not all these gourds are good for!
Both pumpkin flesh and seeds are edible and contain tons of beneficial vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. Read on to learn about this nutritious member of the cucurbit family (which includes cucumbers, gourds, melons and squash), cultivated worldwide for its culinary, medicinal and ornamental uses.
- Eye Opener: Carotenoids, the family of red, orange and yellow pig ments found in pumpkin flesh, include alpha and beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds act as antioxidants and help to neutralize free radicals, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers, agerelated macular degeneration and skin damage from the sun’s rays. Lutein, specifically, protects against eye disease by absorb ing damaging blue light that enters the eye. Carotenoids also provide a source of provitamin A, which is essential for immune system function and fighting infections.
- Body Buttress: Pumpkin flesh is a source of another powerful antioxidant, ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. An essential nutrient that humans must acquire through diet, most experts agree that dietary sources of vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables, are superior to supplements. Like vitamin A, vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining proper immune function: It increases white blood cell production and helps the immune cells work more effectively. A favourite ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products, vitamin C is also essential for healthy skin.
- Super Seeds: Perhaps the most important part of the pumpkin plant is its seeds, which are high in protein and contain quality oils, amino acids, microelements and other beneficial plant compounds. The seeds are available in two varieties—whole white seeds or hulled green seeds (known as pepitas)—both of which can be eaten raw or roasted. They can also be pressed for a highquality oil used for culinary and cos metic purposes. Pumpkin seeds and their oil have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the prostate gland by inhibiting testosteroneinduced enlargement. In addition to working for prostate health, the seeds contain the amino acid Ltryptophan, which raises levels of the “happy” hor mone, serotonin, in the brain, potentially easing depression.
Try this superfood in our Pumpkin Gocchi.
Did You Know?
Loofah sponges are made from the fibrous fruit of the loofah plant. The fully ripened fruit is dried on the vine to form the sponge. Botanically known as Luffa aegyptiaca, it is also a member of the gourd family!