Pumpkin health benefits and therapeutic value

Pumpkins (Curcurbita pepo) belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a gourd with yellow or orange fibrous flesh with various shapes and colors native to North America.

Its hollow and hairy stems bear very large, ragged leaves that are covered with rough hairs.

Pumpkins and its health benefits and therapeutic value

Spreading from the Americas to Europe in the XVIth century, the deworming properties of pumpkins were discovered and quickly confirmed, since it was used in the XIXth century to expel tapeworms.

It was considered that the seeds from this plant would soothe digestive and urinary tract inflammations.

  • Green pumpkin seeds have excellent diuretic properties. Since 1980, pumpkin seeds are used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.
  • On top of the deworming effect, the seeds are also known to have anti-inflammatory and purgative properties.
  • Pumpkin pulp, a diuretic and laxative, is often prescribed in diets of persons who suffer from intestine and kidney disorders, as well as arthritis and rheumatism.
  • After fasting, pumpkin pulp, being extremely easy to digest, is a highly recommended solid food to start eating again.
  • Beta-carotene contained in pumpkins is a source of vitamin A for the body, and also doubles to serve as an antioxidant. It is said to enhance certain functions of our immune system.
  • Pumpkins are a source of phosphorus which plays an essential part in the formation and maintenance of bone and tooth health.
  • Raw pulp has emollient effects. When mashed, it makes for soothing poultices against burns.

Growing pumpkins for their health benefits

  • To thrive, pumpkins need a sunbathed place that is warm and free from any other competition. It grows best in rich soil, full of humus, cool but well drained.
  • Remember to add manure to your soil: pumpkins really love it!
  • Be careful though, since in excessively moist soil, the plant could rot. And watch out for slugs and snails at the beginning of the gourd’s growth.
  • Gourd harvest is at the beginning of fall until the first frost spells. The fruit is ripe when the leaves, slightly yellowing, start drying off and that the stem is ready to break off.
  • You can keep your pumpkins whole in a well ventilated space, with a constant temperature of around 60°F (15°C) for over 6 months. Once it has been sliced open, each slice wrapped in food-grade plastic wrap can hold for a week in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t even try to grow pumpkins in pots, it isn’t suited to it at all and you’ll be disappointed with the results.

Cooking pumpkins for their health benefits

  • Pumpkins are excellent in soups and mashes. You can also prepare them compotes, like apple sauce, blending a few apples together and spicing it up with cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Pumpkin seeds can be chewed as is, or roasted. They can be added to your salad seasoning for mixed salads. They are known to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system and seem to work preventively against certain cancers. The seeds must be stored in a vacuum to stay fresh and keep their health benefits.

Nutritional content of pumpkin

20 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g). Pumpkins are among the vegetables that have the highest levels of provitamin A.

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