The tradition of Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns began in ancient Ireland where people carried carved lanterns on October 31 made out of turnips or beets to keep away evil spirits. Centuries later when the Irish emigrated to North America, they switched to carving pumpkins simply because there were more pumpkins available!
Imagine trying to carve out a turnip!
Pumpkins have been an important part of Halloween celebrations ever since.
Pumpkins, believed to have originated in North America, belong to the Cucurbitaceae family – the same as gourds. There are no fixed shape to pumpkins, they usually vary from being oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth, lightly ribbed and usually, orange or yellow in color. Eating pumpkins and pumpkin seeds have a lot of health and nutrition benefits.
Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Pumpkin
- Very rich in carotenoids, to help strengthen the immune system.
- The beta-carotene in pumpkin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
- Alpha-carotene is believed to slow the process of aging and prevent cataract formation.
- It is high in fiber.
- Loaded with potassium, lowering the risk of hypertension.
- Contains zinc to boost the immune system and improve bone density.
Health & Nutrition Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
- They promote overall prostate health.
- They contain L-tryptophan, which has been effective against depression.
- A natural protector against osteoporosis.
- Known to reduce inflammation.
- Studies show they help prevent kidney stones.
- Being rich in phytosterols, they help reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol.
Nutritional Value of Pumpkin
Given below is the amount of nutrients present in one cup of pumpkin (cooked, boiled and drained):
- Calcium 37mg
- Carbohydrate 12gm
- Dietary Fiber 3gm
- Folate 21mcg
- Iron 1.4mg
- Magnesium 22mg
- Niacin 1mg
- Potassium 564 mg
- Protein 2gm
- Selenium 0.50mg
- Vitamin A 2650 IU
- Vitamin C -12mg
- Vitamin E 3mg
- Zinc 1 mg
- Calories 49