Pumpkin is a member of the gourd family which also includes muskmelon, watermelon and squash. It is the name of a plant that refers to certain cultivars of squash, most commonly those of Cucurbita pepo, that are round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them.
Origins of Pumpkin
The name pumpkin finds its origins from the Greek word pepon for “large melon”. Pepon was nasalized by the French into pompon, which the English changed it to Pumpion and finally the American colonists changed to “Pumpkin” as we know it today.
The oldest evidence of pumpkins dates back to 7000 and 5500 BC, in Mexico. United States colonists learned to grow and use pumpkins from Native Americans who dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats, and ate strips of pumpkin roasted on open fire. The origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey and baked it in hot ashes.
Trick or Treat? How Pumpkin became the Halloween Lantern
Pumpkin and the pie made from it became a National Thanksgiving tradition with people making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” Immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and England brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States and found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, made perfect jack o’lanterns.
18 REASONS WHY PUMPKIN IS MORE TREAT THAN TRICK
- Prostate cancer: The high content of zinc and carotenoids in pumpkin (flesh and seeds) prevent enlargement of the prostate and over-stimulation of the male hormones that cause prostate cancer.
- Immunity Shield: Pumpkin juice packs vital Vitamin C and other minerals, fortify our immunity shield, by increasing the production and quality of white blood cells- our battle horses against various kinds of infections.
- Anti-inflammatory effect: Pumpkin seeds contain a pro-Vitamin A carotenoid, beta-cryptoxanthin which has potent anti-inflammatory properties that are very useful against the rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation. Also calcium in pumpkin supports bone health.
- Soothes Asthma: The anti-oxidants effectively protect the respiratory system from infections and free-radical attacks, reducing and healing asthma attacks.
- Prevents Atherosclerosis: Pumpkin’s anti oxidants have cleansing properties that help scrub away arterial deposit build ups (arteriosclerosis-hardening of the arteries) reducing the risks of heart diseases and stroke.
- Fights Cholesterol: Pumpkin has high amounts of phytosterols and pectin, that help replace and normalize blood cholesterol, and minimizes the risk of high blood pressure.
- Anti Depressant: Pumpkin is rich with L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that activates the feeling of happiness and well-being, reducing the depressed mood.
- Sedative Benefits: Due to its sedative properties, pumpkin juice with honey, at bedtime, is effective in curing insomnia.
- Dense in Dietary Fiber: Pumpkin is abundant in dietary fiber that relives gastrointestinal disorders like indigestion, peptic ulcers, acidity and constipation, and reduces bad LDL cholesterol levels and regulates the blood sugar level. It also controls loose motions due to its laxative action.
- Diuretic: Pumpkin juice acts as a potent diuretic and detoxifier, increasing urine content and toxic waste disposal and aids healthy functioning of the urinary system.
- Boosts Renal Function: Pumpkin (both the flesh and the seeds) have beneficial effect on the functioning of the kidney and prevents stone formation in the kidneys and gall bladder.
- Reactivates Liver Function: Pumpkin juice has great therapeutic properties and has long been prescribed for patients suffering from viral hepatitis A and help in reactivating liver functions.
- Improves Eyesight: Pumpkin boasts of an abundance of Beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, key nourishing elements for the upkeep of the optic system, protecting against astigmatism, macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Cooling Agent: A concoction of pumpkin juice and honey acts as a cooling agent, decreasing increased body temperatures due to fever and during the draining, summer season.
- Fights Nausea and Morning Sickness: Sipping on pumpkin juice has shown promising results in relieving feeling of nausea and vomiting, also known as morning sickness, experienced by pregnant women.
- For Ageless Skin: Fresh pumpkin juice is one critical component in every natural spa treatment to achieve supple, hydrated, wrinkle free and rejuvenated skin. The Vitamin A, C, E, zinc and beta-carotene combination forms a formidable defense against skin cell damage and assists in its nourishment, and cooling and healing burns, abscess, insect bites and inflammation.
- Hair Care: Pumpkin juice is a great source of vitamin A and potassium, which promote regrowth of hair, strengthening and nourishing the hair follicles, and moisturizing dry and damaged hair.
- Anti-Parasitic: In traditional Chinese medicine, pumpkin seeds are ground into powder form and consumed with its juice for fighting of parasites like the tapeworms.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- Excessive consumption of Pumpkin seeds can lead to headache, hot flashes and gastrointestinal complaints.
- Eating large amounts of pumpkin seeds can cause stomach aches. This is because the high content of fatty oils contained in the seeds can upset the stomach, and even cause diarrhea or a loss of appetite.