October 1, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

In India, a pumpkin is called a Kaddoo (Hindi: कद्दू)!! I was pretty chubby and medium height through most of high school and was often called by this name. Oh well .. I survived high school and still love pumpkins :) so it couldn't have been that bad afterall ... !! Pumpkins belong to the squash family (Cucurbitaceae) and the term pumpkin is a common name for a variety of plants in this family. In general, to be called a pumpkin, the fruit has to have a thick orange, or yellow shell, which is edible. Once cut, the fruit is mostly hollow with a thick fleshy outer shell which is typically the same color as the shell ... with shades between orange to yellow. Seeds are present by the thousands within each cavity. Pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene and are absolutely loaded with Vitamin A with a 100g serving of pumpkin having greater than 200% of the RDA. Pumpkins are rich in dietary fiber and anti-oxidants such as vitamins A, C and E as well as many natural polyphenols such as the aforementioned beta-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. Dietary experts often recommend that pumpkin be included as a regular part of the diet for patients looking to control their weight as well as cholesterol levels. Zeaxanthin has been reported to be helpful in protecting against age-related macular degeneration in the elderly. Pumpkins are also a good source of Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and B9 (Folic acid). Pumpkin seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and are high in minerals such as iron, selenium and zinc and are an excellent source of the amino acid Tryptophan. Although pumpkin seeds are lacking in cholesterol, they are pretty high in fat (~14g of fat/oz). When cooked without added fats, pumpkin seeds more than make up for their fat content by providing a lot of good stuff alongside the fat. Chomp away.

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