> Food Nutritions > Pumpkin

Pumpkin

Used for: Promote cardiovascular health, Dry eyes, Promote immune health, Prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases, Prevention of cardiovascular events, Reducing risks of cardiovascular diseases
Chinese name:

What’s a Pumpkin?

Pumpkin originated from Central and South America, which was then passed to Europe, and subsequently Asia. Pumpkin belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, which is classified as a fruit, as it contains seeds. Pumpkin has a thick outer skin, soft flesh, and plenty of seeds within. Both the flesh and the seeds are edible, and they provide various health benefits respectively. Pumpkin is rich in fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins and minerals, and numerous antioxidants, which are important for eye protection, heart health and immunity.

 

Varieties
Butternut Pumpkin
It is long in shape. It has a smooth and rich mouthfeel, with a milky flavor, which is also known as “milk pumpkin”.

 

Chestnut pumpkin
It is a Japanese variety. It has green outer skin and soft and fluffy flesh.

 

Chinese pumpkin
It is in a gourd shape, which is also known as “golden melon”. It has fluffy and sticky flesh.

 

Dongsheng Pumpkin
It is round and flat. It has fluffy flesh and a sweet taste.

 

Origin
Central and South America.

 

Season
Autumn and Winter.

Nutrition facts

According to the Centre for Food Safety and Food and Health Bureau, the nutrition facts per 100 g of the edible portion of pumpkin, which is equivalent to half a cup of pumpkin puree are:

 

Calories
26 kcal

 

Macronutrients

Carbohydrates

ProteinLipids

Carbohydrates: 6.5 g

Sugars: 1.36 g

Dietary Fibre: 0.5g (0.5% of DV)

1.0 g

Total fat: 0.1 g

Saturated fat: NA

Trans fat: NA

Cholesterol: NA

Micronutrients

Vitamins

Minerals
Vitamin C: 9.0 mg (9% of DV)

Calcium: 21 mg (2.6% of DV)

Copper: 0.127 mg (8.5% of DV)

Iron: 0.80 mg (5.3% of DV)

Magnesium: 12 mg (4.0% of DV)

Manganese: 0.125 mg (24.2% of DV)

Phosphorus: 44 mg (6.3% of DV)

Potassium: 340 mg (17.0% of DV)

Sodium: 1 mg (0.1% of DV)

Zinc: 0.32 mg (2.1% of DV)

Recommended intake
2-3 meals per week of carotene-rich food (e.g. pumpkin and carrot) to avoid the skin turning pale orange.

Health benefits of pumpkin

Eye protection
β-carotene in pumpkin can be converted into vitamin A in the body, a component of the protective outer layer of the eye – cornea. Pumpkin is also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which reduces the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Furthermore, vitamin C and E in pumpkins also help protect the eyes.

 

Weight loss
Although pumpkin is low in calories, because of its high fiber content, it provides a sense of fullness for an extended period of time. Thus, the consumption of pumpkins helps suppress appetite and helps with losing weight.

 

Heart health
Pumpkins are rich in potassium, which is essential for promoting heart health. Potassium intake is associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension and stroke. Also, antioxidants in pumpkin, including α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, can prevent the oxidation of ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, avoid its accumulation in the vascular wall, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

Immunity
Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps strengthen the immune system and fight infections. It can even protect the skin from UV damage from the sun. In addition, pumpkin contains vitamin C, which facilitates the production of white blood cells, thereby allowing immune cells to function more effectively and speed up wound healing. Other nutrients include vitamin E, iron, and folic acid, also help improve immune function.

Special precautions

People who are taking lithium medication
Lithium is a type of psychiatric medication that is used as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Pumpkin may hinder the removal of lithium from the body, which may cause serious side effects.

 

Pre-diabetic and diabetic patients
Although pumpkin is low in calories, its main composition is carbohydrates. Excessive consumption of pumpkins might cause a surge in blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. A friendly reminder is to reduce or directly replace the staple food in the meal with pumpkin to avoid excessive sugar intake.

Side effects

Pumpkin has a mild diuretic effect, which may increase the excretion of salt and water via urine when consumed in a large amount.

 

Also, excessive intake of pumpkin may cause the skin to turn pale orange. It is because pumpkin contains carotene, which is a lipid-soluble orange-red pigmented vitamin. Large consumption of pumpkin may cause its pigment to be reflected on the skin layer. Nevertheless, carotene will be excreted along with normal metabolism, and the orange pigment will fade quickly.

 

Allergies

There are no known allergies to the consumption of pumpkin.

How to eat it?

Pumpkin can be incorporated in both sweet and savory dishes.

Long pumpkins (e.g. Butternut pumpkins and Chinese pumpkins) have higher water content with a soggier mouthfeel and lighter in taste. It is suitable to be prepared as a puree for dessert or soup.

 

Short pumpkins (e.g. Chestnut pumpkins and Dongsheng pumpkins) are thicker in mouthfeel and sweeter in taste, and can be used for stir-frying or making a pumpkin stew.

In addition, pumpkin seeds, like other nuts, can be used in baking, as a snack, or added to salad and cheese, for an extra source of protein and good quality lipid.

Nutritionist’s tips

How to cook pumpkins best?

Since carotene is a fat-soluble vitamin, compared to steaming or boiling, the optimal way to maximize carotene absorption in pumpkin is by pan-frying with a little amount of oil.

Nevertheless, avoid cooking pumpkin with fatty meats (e.g. ribs and chicken wings), because the high-fat content in fatty meat is more soluble in the presence of pumpkin. Pumpkin is more suitable to be cooked with lean meats (e.g. chicken breast and seafood).

Food Functions
Promote immunity
Eye protection
Improve cardiovascular health
Weight loss
Nutrition Labels
Magnesium
Sodium
Vitamin E
Proteins
Lipids
Dietary Fibre
Vitamin C
Sugar
Carbohydrates
Vitamin A
Manganese
Calcium
Copper
Iron
Zinc
Potassium
Phosphorus