Allah’s Medicine Chest: Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo)

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo)

By Hwaa Irfan

As you can see, there are many varieties of pumpkin, which is also known by the common names vegetable marrow, squash, and gourd in English. There so many varieties that one will find it has other Latin/botanical names such as: Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita mixta. Although its origins is said to be South America, we can find that it was one of the favourite foods of Prophet Muhammed (SAW) – Muslim #5068. In fact, its taxonomy proves it to be native to the Levant. Today, one can find that pumpkin grows on all continents with the acception of the Antarctica.

Closely related to the cucumber, zucchini, and the melon, pumpkin is an annual fruit/vegetable that grows well in warm-temperate climates. Whereas the Cucurbita pepo variety is considered a summer harvest, squash varieties like the Cucurbita maxima and the Cucurbita moschata, harvest in the winter, and gourds: Cucurbita ficifolia, Sechium edule, Momordica charantia, Benincasa hispida harvest in autumn. Those commonly referred to pumpkin are orange in colour, have very long vines, and strong stems. Both male and female flowers on the same plant with a short life span for the flowers which open only during the day. Pumpkin is pollinated by honey bees, therefore pesticides should be avoided, as pesticides are toxic to honey bees. The main growers and exporters of pumpkin are the U.S., China, India, and Mexico.

Nutritional Constituents:
Containing protein, , and dietary fibre, pumpkin contains:

    • Sugars: Glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, galactose

    • Fats: Fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fat, Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-6 fatty acid

    • Amino-acids: Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cystine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Alanine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Hydroxyproline, Glutamic acid

    • Aspartic acid

    • Vitamins: Vitamin A, Retinol,

    • Alpha Carotene maintains the immune system of a healthy person, and prevents formation of cataract

    • Beta Carotene converts to vitamin A in the body – an antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory. Prevents build-up of bad cholesterol on the arterial walls.

    • Beta Cryptoxanthin – a carotenoid, which lowers risk of lung cancer and inflammatory polyarthritis

    • Lycopene – a carotenoid, which lowers risk of heart disease and cancer

    • Lutein+Zeaxanthin – defends cells against free radicals, protects eyes against age-related macular degeneration

    • Vitamin C

    • Vitamin D

    • Vitamin E Alpha Tocopherol, Beta Tocopherol, Gamma Tocopherol, Delta Tocopherol

    • Vitamin K

    • Thiamin – a B vitamin

    • Riboflavin – a B vitamin

    • Niacin – a B vitamin

    • Vitamin B6

    • Folate

    • Folic Acid

    • Vitamin B12

    • Pantothenic Acid

    • Choline – a B vitamin

    • Betaine = protects cells from cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress

    • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium

Pumpkins can reduce blindness caused by macular degeneration, the high fibre content aids digestion, and makes for healthy bowels, and its potassium content lowers the risk of hypertension. Investigation into its effect against osteoporosis is under way, and it is well established that it has an anti-inflammatory effect without effecting anti-inflammatory drugs.

Pumpkin Seeds

As a nutritious snack in some parts of the world, pumpkin seeds have a life of their own from the rest of the fruit – vegetable. Known as lib in some parts of the Middle East, and pepitas in Mexico, they are flat and dark green in colour, occasionally eaten with a white husk. Pumpkin seeds contain:

    • Manganese

    • Magnesium

    • Phosphorus

    • Trytophan

    • Iron

    • Copper

    • Vitamin K

    • Phytosterols

Pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin seed oil are known in the fight against benign prostatic hypertrophy, which leads to an enlarged prostrate by preventing over production of the prostate cells produced by the hormone testosterone and dihydrotestosterone as men with higher amounts of carotene in their diet have a lower risk of problems with the prostate glands. This is supported by the high zinc content in pumpkin seeds, which also supports high bone density.

The phytosterols present in pumpkin seeds lowers bad cholesterol in the body, and the tryptophan is effective against depression. Recent studies show that pumpkin seeds prevent the formation of kidney stones. The seeds bruised and then liquidized are effective with getting rid of tapeworms. Pumpkin seed oil is effective in maintaining healthy blood vessels and nerves due its fatty acid content.

Recipes:

The versatility of pumpkin as a fruit-cum-vegetable is the reason why one can find that it makes excellent soups, pies (both savory and sweet), with other fruit (takes on the flavor of any fruit juice combined with it), as jam, and adds bulk without adding its own flavor. Drying and roasting one’s own pumpkin seeds extracted from a pumpkin still provides nutritional value, and a tasty one!

As a vermifuge, the seeds eaten peeled expel pinworms. For tapeworms ground 50 grams of fresh seeds, and mix with honey, and then eat replacing main meals for 1 day.

A pulp of the fruit makes a good facepack to rid the face of dryness, roughness, and pimples. The pulp is also good for speeding up the healing process of burns.

For farmers the ripe and unripe pumpkin provides nutritional fodder for cattle, raw pumpkin fed to poultry support egg production, and canned pumpkin acts as a good dietary supplement for dogs and cats with digestive problems.

Sources:
HORT410 – Vegetable Crops: Squash, Pumpkins & Gourds – Notes http://www.hort.purdue.edu/rhodcv/hort410/squash/sq00001.htm
Melons. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/melons30.html
Pumpkin, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2601/2

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