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PUMPKINS IN THE DIET

Winter squash

This variety is sweeter than summer squash, although, on the other hand, it has a somewhat drier texture since its water content is lower, and its skin is thicker. Thanks to this increase in the thickness of the skin, this variety keeps longer than summer squash. Within this variety, we find different types of pumpkin:

Banana squash
Cidra squash or squash, whose pulp is gelatinous and of a strong yellow colour
The confectionery gourd (called angel hair). It is the one thanks to which the famous filling for pastry products called, precisely, angel hair is manufactured.

The pumpkin varieties that we have listed so far are certainly the best known, but throughout the world, and there are many varieties that, although less known worldwide, are equally healthy and tasty. We could highlight the thick yellow squash from Paris or the full squash from Naples. The truth is that it is a fascinating vegetable due to the number of different varieties that populate the orchards of the different continents.
Nutritional properties of pumpkin

Pumpkin is an excellent source of fibre, thanks to which it can improve the intestinal transit of people who consume it. The fibre in pumpkins can also help you feel full.

Pumpkin is a vegetable that contains large amounts of provitamin A and vitamin C at the vitamin level. It is also rich in vitamin E, B group vitamins (B1, B2, B3 and B6) and folates.

Pumpkin also contains small amounts of calcium and iron. However, the iron in pumpkin, being of non-heme (vegetable) origin, is absorbed much less than iron of animal origin.

In addition, it is a very versatile type of food: we can make a rich pumpkin cream, roast it and use it to accompany meats and fish, or add it as a complement to risottos or pasta.

Pumpkin soup for people with diabetes

As for its seeds, it is important to note that pumpkin seeds can be an ideal snack for those who have diabetes. Its regular consumption helps to reduce blood glucose levels naturally, but as with all nuts, we must control not to exceed ourselves since they are usually quite caloric.

These are some properties of pumpkin seeds:

They have a high level of magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc
They are rich in fatty acids
They have Tryptophan, an amino acid that regulates serotonin levels
They are low in cholesterol

And if we do not want to take them alone, we can always use them as a dressing in a salad or a vegetable dish.
Pumpkin is a widely used vegetable in our homes. It adds a lot of colour to the dishes and gives them a unique presence compared to other vegetables.

It is common to see it in all markets at a very low price when it is in the season, so it is an ideal food to include in our diet.

From a nutritional point of view, it is complete, as it contains numerous vitamins and minerals, among other benefits.

PUMPKIN BENEFITS

It has a low caloric intake, so it is a perfect food for our day today.
It is very rich in antioxidants, molecules that prevent oxidation and delay the ageing of our cells.
It is very rich in carotenes, which, once ingested, are converted into vitamin A, which play an important role in the proper functioning of the eyes, preventing cataracts, and maintaining the skin and bones.
It also contains vitamin C, which facilitates the absorption of other vitamins and minerals, prevents scurvy since it is involved in collagen formation, supports the immune system, and regulates cholesterol.
It includes a large amount of fibre, so it is directly related to the proper functioning of the digestive system, as it prevents constipation.
It provides complex carbohydrates, which should be the majority in our diet since they increase satiety by delaying the feeling of hunger and prevent the appearance of diseases such as diabetes or obesity.

HOW CAN WE INCLUDE PUMPKINS IN THE DIET?

Pumpkin cream
Pasta with pumpkin
Rice and legumes with pumpkin
Grilled pumpkin
Accompanying meat or fish.
Etc.

N the last decades, the demand for new nutritionally healthy and sustainable viable foods has increased considerably. Therefore, special attention has been given to the utilization of by-products. The uses of these raw materials add value to economic production, contribute to new food products, and minimize waste1.

Cucurbita maxima, commonly known as pumpkin, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is native to South America and is mainly grown in Brazil, with an estimated production of 3600 tons in 2006 alone in Puente Alto, Santa Catarina2. For its part, Chile is widely known as “zapallo camote” o “zapallo de Guarda” and is the seventh most cultivated crop in Chile and represents, since ancient times, an important source of food for the population3.

Despite its great agronomic potential, their use in Chile is mainly destined to prepare traditional Chilean meals, and seeds are wasted4, while in some parts of Africa and Brazil, pumpkin seeds are used as a food supplement. Also, these seeds are consumed both toasted and salted in Greece5, while in Austria, the extracted oil from seeds is used as salads seasoning because of its aroma and flavor6. When dried, seeds can be used as a thickener for soups and as snacks7.

One of the measures taken to improve the population’s nutritional status includes the use of plant by-products, based on the utilization of plant parts that are wasted. Into these products, there is the use of pumpkin seeds, which are characterized by high levels of protein and oil1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.

Several beneficial effects to human health have been attributed to pumpkin seeds due to their macro and micronutrient content9. Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of phytosterols and antioxidants vitamins such as tocopherols and carotenoids10,11 and an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic12. These compounds are attributed to have physiological activity beneficial to the prostate and others, such as being antiparasitic for the intestine (anthelmintic, vermifuge and centrifuge activities)13. Because of these beneficial effects on human health, pumpkin seeds can be considered a natural functional food.

On the other hand, nowadays, nutrition is experiencing quick changes in the relationship between food intake and chronic non-transmissible diseases. Moreover, there is increased interest in the effects of nutrition on cognitive and immune functions, work capacity and physical performance. This, plus the great interest of consumers are placing more value on health and wellness, makes “healthy” or functional foods an important issue in current human eating14.

Functional foods have been defined as a new range of foods containing biologically active ingredients such as phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other compounds present in fruits, vegetables and seeds. When functional foods are included in the diet, important benefits to consumers’ health are provided15. Cucurbita maxima seeds are among the seeds that are highly wasted but can be considered functional food. Thus, composition, nutritional benefits of consumption, by-products and the technical feasibility are studied in this paper. This work aimed to disseminate nutritional and functional characteristics of seeds from the species of Cucurbita maxima and the medicinal properties associated with them.

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