Pumpkin - Very Tasty and Low Calorie Vegetable

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Pumpkin_cPumpkins are the most famous of the winter squashes all over the world. But in India it is available all through the year. There is hardly any vegetable, which is as big as the pumpkin. It is native to tropical America and now cultivated all over the world. A large number of varieties are grown. Botanically it is known as Cucurbita maxima.


By Ms Mumtaz Khalid Ismail

Pumpkins are the most famous of the winter squashes all over the world. But in India it is available all through the year. There is hardly any vegetable, which is as big as the pumpkin. It is native to tropical America and now cultivated all over the world. A large number of varieties are grown. The fruits are large, oblong, oval or round. The colour of the flesh may vary from yellow to orange and it has a hollow cavity. The seeds are numerous, white to tan in colour with dark marginal bands. For some unexplained reason this vegetable is not that popular. Botanically it is known as Cucurbita maxima.

The vegetable is known by various names in India such as kumra (Bengali), kohlu (Gujarathi) kaddu (Hindi), kumbala (Kanada), paarimal (Kashmiri) gummadi kayi (Telugu), mathan (Malayalam), lal bhopla (Marati) kakhar (Orriya) and parangikkai (Tamil).

Nutrition

Pumpkin is a very low calorie vegetable thus favourite in any weight reducing regime. It provides only 25 kcal for 100 gm of edible portion. It also provides low fat. It is a poor source of vitamin C. It has high water content of 92.6gm per 100 gm of edible portion. It provides small amounts of proteins and minerals. Pumpkin has good amounts of beta-carotene which body converts to vitamin A. 1,160ug of beta-carotene are present in 100 gm of pumpkin. This vegetable plays an important role in a vegetarian diet where animal products are not available to provide vitamin A. Beta carotene is an antioxidant to help prevent free radical damage that might lead to certain types of cancer. Pumpkin contains significant amount of vitamin E. Pumpkin contains low levels of sodium and good amount of potassium makes suitable for hypertensive patients. They are also advisable for diabetes, cardiovascular and also as a weaning food. Pumpkin leaves provide good amounts of calcium. 392mg of calcium for 100 gm of edible leave.


Nutritive value for 100gms of pumpkin *
tabl

*Source: National Institute of Nutrition

Varieties of pumpkin

There are a huge number of varieties of winter squashes. In general they all have a floury and slightly fibrous flesh and a mild almost bland flavour tinged with sweetness. Acorn squashes, Butternut squashes, Delicata squashes, English pumpkins, Hubbard squashes, Kabocha squashes and Onion squashes are the most common varieties. All winter squashes may be stored for long periods. Buy firm, unblemished with clear smooth skins and heavy for their size since this will assure the quality of pumpkin.

Uses of pumpkin

Pumpkins preserve and increase virility. It is vitalising, sweet and vermifuge. It is cool, heavy, dry, laxative, good for the heart and diuretic. It removes kidney disorders and controls the secretion of bile. This vegetable rarely causes allergies and is easily digested. Pumpkins are used as cooked vegetables. They are also used to make pumpkin pie. Pumpkin seeds are rich in both fats and proteins. They are fried in deep oil, salted and eaten. An edible oil can be derived from pumpkin seeds. These edible pumpkin seeds are used for treatment for intestinal worms. These seeds must be taken in conjunction with a purgative such as castor oil for good antihelminthic action. They can also be used for prostrate and urinary problems. Pumpkin juice possesses neutralizing effect on poison. Always use the ripe and matured pumpkin and never use the raw one.


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