The pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata scientific name) is a fruit native to South America and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Also known as jerimum, it is currently cultivated all over the world, because it is a fruit with a very pleasant flavor and rich in nutrients.
In Brazil, squash has been cultivated by the indigenous people for a long time, being part of the diet of native peoples since long before the settlers arrived. Pumpkin is used to prepare the most varied dishes, whether in the form of pumpkin pie, pumpkin jam, boiled pumpkin, baked, etc. The parts of the fruit can be used completely in cooking: the pulp, leaves, seeds and kernels.
There are 3 types of pumpkins: neck pumpkin, pumpkin and Japanese pumpkin (or cabotiá). The neck squash and pumpkin produce creeping vines and can reach up to 6 meters in length. The leaves of the neck pumpkins have silver stains, while the leaves of the pumpkins do not.
The neck pumpkin is the largest among pumpkins and can reach up to 15 kg. It is fibrous and very moist, has a dark green bark with orange stripes. It is perfect for making sweets, breads, salads and snacks.
Moranga is very well known due to its use in cooking for the preparation of a very traditional dish, shrimp in pumpkin. It has an orange hue and lumps, and is often used in the preparation of soups and stir-fries.
The Japanese pumpkin (or cabotiá) is a hybrid species, with the crossing made between pumpkin and pumpkin. This mixture resulted in a fruit with a very creamy texture and a sweet taste. It was developed in Japan in the 1940s and arrived in Brazil after 20 years. The benefits of caboti squash are mainly related to its low caloric content, large amounts of vitamin A and fiber. Its use in cooking is mainly for the preparation of purees, gnocchi and other savory dishes.
When buying the pumpkin, it is necessary to give preference to those that have a smaller size, as the larger ones are usually not very tasty. The rind must be smooth, without shine or stains.
The properties of pumpkin are numerous, as this fruit is rich in nutrients that are very important for our body’s health. It has calcium, phosphorus, iron, fiber and potassium, as well as having large amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and also B complex vitamins. Pumpkin seeds, as well as the oil that is extracted from them, contain plenty of zinc , iron and unsaturated fats.
Pumpkin has many health benefits and is even widely recommended by doctors to help control cholesterol. In addition, it contributes to weight reduction and may prevent some types of cancer.
It also contributes to the better functioning of the immune system, thanks to the presence of iron and zinc. See the health benefits of pumpkin.
1.Help treat diabetes
Pumpkin has a low glycemic index, which benefits the health of people with diabetes. The consumption of the fruit helps to produce insulin and its seeds contain omega-3s, which are also beneficial for diabetics.
2.Reduces stress levels
Pumpkin seeds contain a good amount of tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter that helps relieve anxiety and stress.
3. Aids in weight loss
A 100 gram serving of pumpkins contains about 25 calories. So it is a mistake to say that pumpkin is fattening, as some people believe. Furthermore, it is high in fiber and contains no fat. This causes the feeling of satiety to be prolonged, making the person eat less.
Fiber also reduces the body’s rate of absorption of glucose, a factor that helps keep blood sugar levels stable. This causes the accumulation of fat in the body to be reduced, contributing to weight loss.
4. Reduces cholesterol
Ingesting pumpkin helps to lower the levels of cholesterol present in the body. In addition, the seeds have a good amount of phytosterols, which help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 75% and increase good cholesterol (HDL) by about 15%. These phytosterols end up limiting the body’s absorption of cholesterol.
5.Improves women’s fertility and menopause
According to the results of researches carried out, the consumption of iron contributes to the increase of fertility in women. As pumpkin is rich in this component, it is a beneficial food for women who want to become pregnant.
The consumption of oil made from pumpkin seeds helps to reduce symptoms common to menopause, such as headaches and joint pain. This is because it contains estrogen, which lowers blood pressure and raises good cholesterol (HDL), factors that improve the effects of menopause.
6.Contributes to eye health
Pumpkin is a food that contains a high amount of beta-carotene that, when ingested, is transformed into vitamin A. Research carried out with the pumpkin proved that its regular consumption causes some types of degenerative eye diseases to be slowed down, which can prevent future blindness.
Another beneficial factor of the pumpkin for the eyes is that it contains zeaxanthin, another type of natural antioxidant that filters the ultraviolet rays in the retina, helping to prevent the appearance of eye diseases caused by aging.
7. Helps treat intestinal worms
Ingesting pumpkin seeds helps to treat parasites located in the intestine. This is because they have an amino acid known as cucurbitin, which paralyzes and eliminates these worms, such as tapeworm, for example.
8.Prevents heart disease
Consuming pumpkin helps to relax blood vessels, which prevents the accumulation of fat on its walls, preventing clogs. The presence of potassium reduces hypertension, which reduces the risk of a stroke. In addition, pumpkin has magnesium, which prevents hardening of the arteries and the occurrence of heart attacks.
9.Help in the treatment of prostate cancer
Pumpkin seed is used to help treat prostate cancer. That’s because they contain phytosterols, components that help block the buildup of harmful cells in the prostate.
In addition, it is one of the foods that has the highest amount of beta-carotene found in nature, which is a nutrient with a powerful effect for the treatment of this type of cancer. The oil extracted from the seeds also has a high amount of zinc, which also contributes to the treatment.
10.Benefits the health of babies
Pumpkin is an excellent food for babies and can be introduced from the age of one through the puree made with this fruit. The flavor and texture make this food well received by babies.
Pumpkin has many vitamins and minerals that are highly recommended by pediatricians, and it can also be frozen for later use. If the frozen pumpkin puree becomes darker, it does not mean that it has lost its quality, only a little oxidation has occurred and it can be consumed without problems for a few days.
When drinking pumpkin juice, important benefits for the body are acquired, such as improving the health of the skin and hair, in addition to helping to fight constipation, prevent the onset of arthritis and several other benefits.
- 1/2 pumpkin pumpkin
- Sugar or condensed milk
- Small bags to freeze
- Peel the pumpkin and cut into small pieces. Place in a large pot of water until covered and cook.
- Once soft, drain and mash using a fork, until pureed.
- After cooling, place small portions of the pumpkin in bags and take it to the freezer. Each glass of water should take 2 tablespoons of pumpkin.
- When preparing the juice, just wet the bag, remove the pulp and mix it in a blender or mixer with a glass of water.
- Add condensed milk or sugar when beating and serve afterwards.
Pumpkin soup is delicious and ideal for colder days.
- 1/2 pumpkin small pumpkin
- 1 medium potato
- 1/2 chopped onion
- 1 cube of vegetable broth
- chopped green onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 liter of water
- salt to taste
- Peel and chop the pumpkin into large pieces.
- Put garlic and a little oil in a pan and brown along with the onion. Quickly stir and add the squash and chopped potatoes.
- Add water and bring to a boil, then add the vegetable stock.
- Cook with the lid on until tender and turn off the heat.
- After cooling a little, place in a blender and blend until creamy.
- Pour into the pan and cook for another 3 minutes along with the chives. If necessary, add a little salt.
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