Pumpkin is a powerful source of vitamins, especially A, important for the health of the immune system, skin and eyesight, E, which fights aging processes, K, which is essential to allow blood to clot properly, and group B, mineral salts, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, which, together, show a calming and sedative action, and zinc, useful for the skin, especially in case of acne, wounds and infections. Finally, the pumpkin brings precious antioxidants such as beta-carotene (USDA Database - Gupta et al, Dermatol Res Pract, 2014 - Seo et al, J Chromatogr, 2005). The properties of the pumpkin depend a lot on the foods with which it is served and on the cooking methods. For example, in the previous post we have seen that cooking in extra virgin olive oil is able not only to maintain or even increase the antioxidant power of pumpkin but also to make vitamin K available. In addition to this, the association with garlic makes the pumpkin a food with anti-free radical and antitumor properties and able to strengthen the immune system. Let us now look at other food combinations with pumpkin, keeping in mind that this vegetable is contraindicated in case of diabetes and liver problems due to the high presence of vitamin A.
Pasta and bread
Pasta with pumpkin is a recipe that, taking advantage of the calming and slightly sedative action of mineral salts present in the pumpkin, such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, is useful in case of anxiety. Moreover, the combination with extra virgin olive oil makes vitamin K available, which is helpful in case of poor blood clotting, problems with platelets and hemorrhagic syndromes (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food). In the section Healthy Food you can find an excellent recipe called Pasta with pumpkin and chicory, in which the sweet taste of pumpkin browned in extra virgin olive oil is well contrasted by the bitter taste of chicory. Another very interesting food combination is pumpkin and bread, in the Healthy Food section you can find a recipe entitled Delicious pumpkin bread. This involves replacing a portion of wheat flour with pumpkin pulp. In this way the preparation is enriched with powerful antioxidant properties, as proven by scientific studies (Rozylo et al, Food Technol technol, Dec 2014).
Boiled or baked pumpkin
Boiling or baking are two very interesting ways to cook pumpkin. Unlike other preparations, in this case no extra virgin olive oil is used and therefore vitamin K is less available. However, in this way, the content of zinc, magnesium, potassium and beta carotene (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food) can be maximized. Therefore, cooking the pumpkin in water or in the oven is useful in case of skin problems such as acne or psoriasis but also to protect the eyes and the retina or in case of anxiety, stress and insomnia. Here is an idea for a healthy side dish to serve in the evening, to relax and promote good sleep and to benefit from the properties of zinc, able to protect the skin. Cut the pumpkin into slices and place them on a baking pan covered with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes. Alternatively, for a powerful relaxing action but also a protection for the eyesight, you can prepare a soup. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces, about 150 grams per person. Put the pumpkin into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cook on a low heat until the pumpkin is very soft and the water is almost completely evaporated. Blend the pumpkin with an immersion blender and a quick and healthy soup is ready! And as a final note, if you do not suffer from lactose intolerance, you can add, at the end of cooking, a knob of butter, a source of vitamin A and able to make the beta-carotene of the pumpkin more available.