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The Decorative Pumpkin Offers a Wealth of Nutrients to Promote Total Wellness

Sunday, September 26, 2010 by: Anita Khalek
Tags: pumpkins, nutrients, health news

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(NewsTarget) As Fall approaches, pumpkin patches will re-emerge at every corner reminding us of colder days ahead, of falling leaves and festive holiday dinners. Pumpkin's role during this time of year is limited to scary face carvings and decorative patterns to adorn the porches all across America. As for its appearance at the table, it's usually in one form: as filling in your favorite pumpkin pie. According to recent research, this under-appreciated fruit has earned its spot as one of the top powerhouses of nutrients. From skin to seeds, pumpkin is shown to offer therapeutic benefits to several functions of the body.

Rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, Vitamins B, C, E and K, and potassium, pumpkin offers well-rounded support to vital functions in the body. Provitamin A carotenoids, beta carotenes and alpha carotenes are found in orange, red and yellow colored plant foods. Once digested, they are converted and stored in the liver as retinol, one of the most active forms of Vitamin A which defends the body against the free radical damage, improves skin health and reduces the effects of aging. It is also indispensable to eye/vision health, preventing against cataracts and degenerative diseases, promoting bone health and urinary and intestinal tracts linings and boosting the immune system overall. Other nutrients in the pumpkin flesh prevent heart disease and reduce fat absorption such as fiber, and some lower the risk of hypertension such as potassium.

However, pumpkin flesh isn't the only component of this fruit that is worth mentioning. A recent study at South Korean Chosun University cited the discovery of proteins in the skin of the pumpkin that fight germs and reduce infections, specifically curbing the growth of candida albicans (a fungus usually present in mucus membranes) with no side effects. This fungus is responsible for vaginal infections, diaper rashes and a variety of health issues as it may also travel through the blood stream.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, pack phenomenal benefits to the whole body. Their anti-inflammatory properties protect against cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and phytosterols which support healthy levels of cholesterol and improve the body's immunity to infections. Inconclusive research indicates that pumpkin seed oil has also shown promising results in treating BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), or enlarged prostate, a condition typically found in men over 50, where the gland swells causing frequent and difficult urination. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus and they are high in protein delivering a whopping seven grams of protein per ounce. There is also an abundance of phytosterols and EFAs (essential fatty acids) in these little green seeds, offering protection to the skin, blood vessels and nerves.

This is one food that is sure to boost your total health and wellness, and should not be restricted to a pie filling. It's so versatile in applications from salad and savory dishes to smoothies and is very easy to prepare. In the Fall, an excellent smoothie contains almond milk, roasted pumpkin and apple. As we approach flu season, throw in a handful of raw seeds for an immunity boost.

Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.
Grodstein F, Kang JH, Glynn RJ, Cook NR, Gaziano JM (Nov 2007)
Kyung-Soo Hahm and Yoonkyung Park. South Korea Chosun University from American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

About the author

Anita Khalek resides in North Carolina. As a total wellness advocate, she is a passionate believer in the healing power of Nature and is inspired by local, organic and fresh foods to nurture her family and friends. Anita is currently working on several projects including a cookbook. Visit her blog for fresh, healthy recipes at myFreshLevant.com.
Questions and suggestions can be directed to [email protected]

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