Pumpkins are more than Halloween, or Cinderella’s carriage ride! They are loaded with health benefits, making it a great all-rounder!
Did you know that the word Pumpkin comes from the Ancient Greek word, ‘Pepon’ which means melon? And that they are amongst the longest domesticated plants, having been cultivated as far back as 7,500 to 5,000 BC?
Over the centuries, the term ‘pepon’ into Latin (peponem), French (pompon), English (pompion) when it was eventually referred to as ‘pumpkin’ by 17th century English colonists when they arrived in north-eastern USA.
Being native to southern United States and north-eastern Mexico, half the world’s production of pumpkins is now grown in China and India.
According to Wikipedia, “ In 2018, global production of pumpkins, which included squash and gourds, topped 27.6 million tonnes with – China 8.1m, India 5.3m, Ukraine 1.3m and Russia 1.2m each”. These volumes are astounding!!The only place it’s not grown is Antarctica!
It’s considered as a winter squash, with its smooth but ribbed exterior, often orange in colour though there are variations of yellow and green.
Regarded as a fruit because it’s a botanical berry known as a pepo, which has seeds and pulp inside, that are consumables, together with the exterior rind of some types.Pumpkins usually weigh anywhere between 3 and 8 kilograms, though some have tipped the scales over 34 kilos. Recently, my uncle in Sicily told me that his neighbour grew a 1.2 metres wide pumpkin weighing over 95 kilos!!
Consumed in the autumn months, traditionally for Thanksgiving in the US in a Pumpkin Pie.But for some of us, we love it whenever we can get our hands on it!!It’s one of my all-time favourite vegetables!
Other favourite dishes include pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, risotto, or in a Moroccan filo pastry with peppers and spices.
If you’re interested in trying out new recipes, besides roasted pumpkin and delicious soup, see:see the recipes on Taste webpage: Pumpkin Recipes, or alternative recipes at Favourite Pumpkin Recipes.
Gallery of Pumpkins varieties at the market, Unsplash Ben Ashby Love of Pumpkins, Unsplash Cayla1 Pumpkin Soup
What’s so great about Pumpkins, its seeds and oil?
Using cold pressed Pumpkin Seed Oil (Cucurbita pepo L) is far better as the nutrients and antioxidants are maintained in the extraction process. Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds and using the Oil:
• Because of the orange carotenoid pigments, alpha and beta carotene, pumpkins have the wonderful colour, offering provitamin A, which our bodies enjoy when consumed. The seeds are also great for consumption and provide wonderful benefits for our overall health and well-being too.
• It is rich in Vitamins A, B, C, D & E, with minerals and proteins, containing over 60% unsaturated fatty acids, Omega 3 & 6.
• The high vitamin and mineral content makes Pumpkin Seed oil a wonderful inclusion for cosmetics and skincare products, improving the overall appearance of your skin.
• The colour of Pumpkin seed oil can vary from light to very dark green or red in colour. This depends on the sample’s thickness – where thin layers appear green, with thicker layers red. This is known as ‘dichromatism’ where varying colours can be seen depending on how it’s observed. Image shown below in the Gallery of images.
• Pumpkin seeds are rich in Antioxidants, which help protect the body’s cells, assisting the prevention of chronic conditions like diabetes, autoimmune disorders and heart disease.
• Pumpkin seed & the oil derived from the seeds can help maintain a healthy heart . Tests conducted after using the seeds showed that cholesterol levels and blood pressure dropped, both contributing to a healthy heart. The levels of nitric oxide in our bodies can also rise from consuming the seeds, which encourage blood flow, assisting the efficient functionality of the heart.
• For women, the menopausal symptoms can be improved as diastolic blood pressure is reduced, increasing good cholesterol.
• Including the seeds in our diet can improve the functioning of the bladder reducing its over activity.
• Daily addition of pumpkin seeds to your diet can help improve the quality of your sleep. They contain nutrients and amino acids like magnesium and tryptophan, aiding with insomnia, restlessness, how quickly you fall asleep as well as the length of time sleeping.
• Including the seeds can stablise & regulate blood sugar levels, preventing the sudden rise, spikes and crashes. When blood sugar levels are high, they can create symptoms similar to diabetes, like nausea, needing to urinate often, fatigue and an overwhelming thirst.Being rich in protein and fibre, pumpkin seeds slows down sugars being absorbed in the bloodstream;
• The contents of zinc which helps balance hormone levels that can benefit hair re-growth, reversing loss;
Gallery of Pumpkin Seed Oil – dichromatism of Pumpkin Seeds, varying colours, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Pumpkins.
Historical facts about Halloween.
• The ancient Celtic festival of Samhain is the where the tradition started. People would light bonfires, wearing costumes to scare away ghosts;
• When the Romans had conquered the Celtic regions circa 43 A.D, ruling for over 400 years, the combined their own festivals with the ancient Celtic Samhain.
• The Romans celebrated and remembered their dead during ‘Feralia’ .They also commemorated the Roman goddess Pomona of fruit and trees. Pomona’s symbol is the apple which was incorporated with the Samhain festivities.It’s believed the bobbing apples in Halloween started because of this tradition.
• November 1 was dedicated to honor All Saints by Pope Gregory III, which included some of the traditions commenced by the Celtic festival of Samhain;
• The night before All Saints Day was called ‘All Hallows Eve’ which later became known has ‘Halloween’;
• Eventually, the tradition developed where carving ‘Jack-o-lanterns’ , gathering together for festivities, wearing costumes, eating treats collected from trick-or-treating;
• Did you know that over ¼ of annual candy sold in the USA is bought for Halloween?
• The American festivities included gatherings sharing stories about their dead, fortune-telling, dance and sing, as well as pull pranks of each other;
• The arrival of the Irish immigrants to America helped make Halloween a popular festivity.
For more fun interesting information, check out Halloween History.
Unsplash Yulia Chinato Halloween fun, Carvings in the garden, Unsplash Nick Fewings Trick or Treat.
- Did you know that the tradition of Jack O Lanterns started in Ireland?
- What’s your favourite pumpkin recipe?
- What do you love the best about Pumpkins?
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About Lili & Essentially Lili – My Health Studies include from 2016-2019 Diplomas in Aromatherapy, Holistic Skincare Products, Clinical Nutrition, Stress Management, Reflexology, Holistic Pain Management, and a Member of International College of Holistic Medicine.I’m currently studying Clinical Nutrition for Over 50s.
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