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Pumpkin

The pumpkin is a grand fruit that is considered a vegetable in the kitchen. They are commonly orange, yellow or green in color and can range in size from a small one that can fit in your hand to a giant the size of 10 men. Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene and plays a role in regulating blood sugar. All over the world, from India to Australia, pumpkin is used in cooking for its subtle sweetness.

Pumpkin
The thermal nature is cooling.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Pumpkin is a variety of squash. It is a large bulbous shaped vegetable, most often a shade of orange or yellow in color, although they can be green, white, red or a mix of these colors. The pumpkin is botanically classified as a fruit, like the eggplant, zucchini or tomato. Pumpkins range in size, but are generally around 4 to 8 kg (9 to 18 lb) with the largest growing to over 34 kg (75 lb). They also come in a wide variety of bulbous shapes and varieties. Some pumpkins are rounded, some are oblong or hourglass in shape while the classic Halloween shaped pumpkin is oblate (rounded, with the height being shorter that the diameter). Pumpkin tends to be smooth skinned and often slightly ribbed.

Then world record size for a pumpkin is huge and always growing because of a fanatical type competition. The current giant being over 765 kg (1686 lb).


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What is in it

Pumpkins excellent source of Vitamin A, a very good source of fiber and a good Vitamin C and potassium. They are also a good rich source of beta-carotene. 


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What it is good for

Pumpkin:
• Relieves damp conditions including dysentery, eczema and edema
• Helps to regulate blood sugar balance, used for diabetes and hypoglycemia.
• Benefit to the pancreas 
• Promotes discharge of mucus from the lungs, bronchi and throat
• Helps destroy intestinal worms.

Pumpkin seeds are considered particularly beneficial for general heath and wellbeing. See the entry Pumpkin seeds in the Nuts and Seeds category.

Regular use has shown to be of benefit to bronchial asthma. Eating cooked pumpkin can destroy intestinal worms, although eating pumpkin seeds is a more effective treatment. Eat a small handful once or twice daily for 3 weeks. 


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When you get it

Pumpkin are a summer crop and are at their sweetest in the mid and late summer months.


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Which to select

The vegetable 
Pumpkin should be smooth skinned and free of blemishes or bruising. Choose pumpkin that is hollow sounding when knocked with your knuckles. Many varieties have a ribbing but the skin in between should still be smooth.

Why Organic
Choose organically grown Pumpkin. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.


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Where to store

Store in a cool dry place. In this way they will keep well for several weeks or more.


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How to use

The pumpkin can be prepared in a wide range of ways. It is great boiled, baked, steamed or roasted.

Cut the pumpkin and remove the seeds. These can be dried out and eaten. Cut the pumpkin in sizes as needed. To skin a whole pumpkin, place the whole fruit into the oven at a very hot temperature  of at least 220°C for about 10 minutes. The skin will soften making it easier to remove.

• Pumpkin Pie (am American thanksgiving tradition)
• Cut into wedges or chunks and roast (great also with the skins)
• Added to soups for its sweetness and thickness
• Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin.
• In South Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa.
• In Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups
• In Australia, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables
• In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura.
• In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert.
• In Italy it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. 


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.
 


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Things to watch out for

 Pumpkins are heavy with a hard skin. Take care when handling they to avoid back injuries when carrying. Take care that your knife does not cut you when cutting this hard vegetable.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, Pumpkin, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin, retrieved 05/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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