Beyond Pumpkin Pie

Health Benefits of Pumpkin and Seeds

Beyond pumpkin pie, the soups and other baked or roasted fare, pumpkin carvings and childhood myths, there lies a medicinal wonder: pumpkins pack a nutritional punch. With no cholesterol, negligible fat and salt, high potassium, pumpkin also supplies more than 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (carotene) and 20% of Vitamin C, 80 calories and 19 gr. of carbohydrates, all in about an average teacup measure. And like most vegetables and fruit, it is about 90% water.

Not only the vegetable itself, but the seeds and most importantly the oil are highly valued in the fight against certain cancers such as prostrate cancer Studies in Europe have shown urinary tract infections and weakness of the bladder are effectively treated with pumpkin seed oil.

Containing linoleic acid (an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid), it also is effective in treating hardening of the arteries and lowering the LDL, so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Eating the seeds as a snack help prevent the most common type of kidney stone, calcium oxalate.

Today a variety of pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo Convarietas Citrullinina – Varietas Styriaca) has been developed and is grown in the Styria (Steiermark) area of Austria. Not surprisingly, it is concidered the best source for pumpkin oil.

This ‘green gold’ is brimming with nutrition – including zinc, niacin, amino acids, iron, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, vitamin E, protein, folate, carotenoids, phytosterols, essential fatty acids, and selenium. An impressive list.

Its value was appreciated long before medical science discovered what a vitamin is. In 1773, the Royal Austrian Court declared this oil too valuable to be used for culinary purposes and so declared it a medicine. Dark, rich, tasty and toasty, the oil is, by the way, delicious for salads, and other foods. However, as with all oils, heating will diminish its nutritional value and affect the flavour. Add it just before serving to hot dishes or dips such as hummus – a chickpea dip.

Because of the oil’s thick nature, it is often thinned down with other oils, making it more cost effective for some producers. When purchasing, read the label to insure that it is 100% pumpkin seed oil with no additives.

Once opened, store pumpkin seed oil in the refrigerator. Use the oil also in a vinaigrette, using balsamic vinegar. Delicious!  Trivia Corner: 2.5 k. of pumpkin seed is required to make 1 litre of oil.

Like finest Champagne, or the best olive oil, pumpkin seed oil from Austria is stamped with a seal showing not only the place but field of origin as well.  Ask for it in better grocery and health food shops.  Pumpkin seeds and the oil help reduce the risk of prostrate cancer.

Pumpkins – more than meets the eye!

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