The pumpkin, squash or ahuyama is a vegetable native to Central America belonging to the genus cucurbitaceae, such as cucumber or melon. The different names of this product refer to different species, sizes and colors. It is a vegetable highly valued for its important nutritional values.
Its properties make this vegetable a very beneficial culinary component for our health. Therefore, in this article you can find the many benefits of pumpkin on our health .
Pumpkin is a vegetable with an important presence in the gastronomy of many countries and cultures since it was exported to Europe. Although there are different varieties, most of them have similar nutritional properties. Its taste is sweet , although it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber and one of the vegetables with the highest concentration of antioxidants. It is low in sodium and carbohydrates, hypocaloric and high in potassium. In addition is rich in vitamins and has a high percentage of water, resulting in a nutritious vegetable without being very caloric. Its nutritional values per hundred grams are approximately twenty-eight kilocalories, 1.4g of fibre, 0 cholesterol, 0.1g of fat and 5.6g of carbohydrates.
Not only is its meat used, but also its seeds are beneficial because of their high magnesium content (although these are not so low in calories). Also the leaves of the plant from which it grows have beneficial properties.
The benefits of pumpkin
The health benefits of the pumpkin are many and diverse, which makes it an interesting product to incorporate into our diet. Below are some of the most remarkable benefits.
1. Suitable for people with digestive problems
Pumpkin or squash is easy to digest and contains mucilage that protects the stomach lining, so that people with heartburn or digestive problems can eat it without discomfort. Also, is a soft food that has even been recommended as one of the first solid foods in babies.
2. Keeps high blood pressure and heart problems at bay
People with hypertension can eat it with peace of mind, as it is a low-sodium food. It is also beneficial in lowering blood cholesterol. The seeds are a source of magnesium , which contributes to the good health of the cardiovascular system. In addition, it provides useful minerals for the cardiovascular system, such as iron.
3. Has diuretic action
The genitourinary system also benefits from the consumption of pumpkin, since the high water content of this plant promotes diuresis, resulting in usefulness in kidney problems . In fact, it contributes to preventing the formation of stones in these organs, as well as to reducing the retention of liquids.
4. Anti-inflammatory food
The consumption of pumpkin has proven anti-inflammatory effects, which may contribute to reduce various inflammations.
5. Good for diabetics
Pumpkin is low in calories, low in sugar and low in carbohydrates, so it is suitable for diabetics (although each subject must take into account his or her particular dietary needs).
In addition, studies with rats have shown that pumpkin is helpful in raising blood insulin levels , so if these results are replicated in humans they could help reduce the number of times type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetics have to inject it. In some of the experiments, it even helped to regenerate damaged cells from the pancreas of rodents.
6. Contributes to good digestion and weight loss
Another benefit of pumpkin is that it allows good gastrointestinal motility and, being nutritious and highly satiating, it is very low in calories and has few carbohydrates. It also has a high fibre and water content. All this makes it useful for those people who want to lose weight or who have gastrointestinal problems.
7. Increases energy level
It is common to hear that after doing a lot of exercise or physical effort in general, many people resort to eating bananas to recover energy due to their high potassium content and thus regenerate the energy level needed by the muscles to function properly.
But the banana is not the only product that contains a high level of potassium. In fact, pumpkin contains even more than this fruit, making it an effective and healthy alternative for recovering energy .
8. Prevents anemia
In spite of being a low-calorie product, the consumption of pumpkin helps to prevent anemia because it has a great amount of nutrients, vitamins and essential minerals. Especially if eaten raw.
9. Helps prevent different types of cancer
Beta-carotene and the antioxidants it contains are very useful in preventing different types of cancer. Among them are some types of melanomas. In the case of men, it also helps prevent prostate cancer due to the phytosterols and lycopene present in pumpkin seeds.
10. Delays cellular aging and improves skin care
Being one of the richest vegetables in antioxidants and having a high content of beta-carotene, pumpkin is beneficial in regenerative processes and allows cells to take longer to age due to oxidation . These effects mean that in addition to food consumption, pumpkin is used in various cosmetic products.
11. Helps regulate mood and sleep better
Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of tryptophan, a necessary component for the generation of various neurotransmitters. Likewise also provides zinc, which is useful for the health of the immune system . Pumpkin therefore helps the body to generate hormones that allow it to relax and reduce stress.
- Xia, T. & Wang, Q. (2007). Hypoglycaemic role of Cucurbita ficifolia (Cucurbitaceae) fruit extract in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 87, Num. 9, pgs 1753-1757.