If all you’ve ever done is carve a Halloween pumpkin and light it up with a candle, then you are missing out on a fruit that’s full of minerals and vitamins, but low on calories. The lovely vibrant orange colour of pumpkins is a quick giveaway that they are packed with an important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, found in plants, which is converted to vitamin A in the body and it possesses a number of important health benefits.
Current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and, because it’s also high in fibre, potassium and vitamin C, eating pumpkin also offers protection against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of ageing.
Pumpkins contain many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. They are also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin.
Pumpkins are a good source of B vitamins such as folate, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. They also amply provide minerals such as copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
With regard to fertility … Pumpkin seeds contain a good level of zinc, which is required for the maintenance and health of hormone levels, sperm and ova.
Apart from our gorgeous pumpkin soup recipe below, try and find ways of incorporating the seeds into your diet, maybe adding them to a mix of your favourite muesli ingredients, or by drizzling pumpkin seed oil over your mashed potato or healthy risotto.
1 small pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chilli – finely chopped and adjusted to suit!
1 litre of vegetable stock (add more if necessary for desired thickness)
1. Cut pumpkin flesh, onion and potatoes into cubes (keep the seeds for roasting later).
2. Warm a large pot and add olive oil. Add the onions and gently cook until soft.
3. Then, add the potatoes and pumpkin. Cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add in vegetable stock and chilli and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes and pumpkin are soft.
5. Using a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. Adjust thickness as necessary by adding extra water if required.
Reference: Derbyshire, E.(2007) Dietary factors and fertility in women of childbearing age. Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 37 Iss: 2, pp 100 – 104.