Legend has it that the carved pumpkin put outside the house on Halloween night can imprison evil spirits. This is a fascinating story but the reality is not very different. In fact, as evidenced by numerous scientific researches, the pumpkin seems to be able to "imprison" and counteract inflammation and cellular degeneration. And the strength of pumpkin is that nothing is thrown away because every part, from the peel to the seeds, is a precious ally for health.
The antibiotic power of the peel
We are used to throwing away the peel of the pumpkin, considering it a waste. Actually, there is nothing more wrong. In fact, the peel of the pumpkin has a high antibiotic, antioxidant and antitumor power (Asif et al, Pak J Pharm Sci, 2017 - Kamarudin et al, Journal of Coastal Life Medicine, 2014). So, when you cut the pumpkin into slices that you want to roast in the oven, try to leave the skin and cook at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. For this type of preparation, the variety of Hokkaido pumpkin is excellent, which has a thinner skin that can be eaten without problems. Alternatively, if you only need pumpkin pulp in the recipes, you can use pumpkin peel to enrich soups and minestrone. Finally, you can try cutting the squash into chunks, keeping both skin and pulp, and steaming these beauties for 15-20 minutes.
The properties of the pulp
The pulp of the pumpkin is a precious source of flavonoids and beta-carotene, but also of vitamins, such as A, C and E, which have an antioxidant action, support the immune system and protect the eyesight, of minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and selenium, and of fibers (Miljic et al, Antioxidants, 2021 - Amin et al, Heliyon, 2019). The flavonoids contained in the pulp have shown interesting anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. In fact, it has been observed that some mycotoxins, contained in poorly preserved foods such as cereals, nuts or cheeses, can overcome the barrier that separates blood and brain and cause neuroinflammation, paving the way, in the long term, to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Well, it has emerged that the antioxidants contained in pumpkin pulp are able to counteract this neuro-inflammation generated by mycotoxins (Alonso Garrido et al, Arh Hig Rada Toksikol, 2021).
The pulp is also a precious cosmetic
Pumpkin pulp can become a cosmetic for the skin. In fact, thanks to its healing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can help soothe conditions such as acne but also dermatitis (Huwait et al, J Microsc Ultrastruct., 2020 - Balgoon et al, Front Pharmacol, 2021). Boil the pumpkin pulp, then mash it until you get a puree. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons of yogurt and half a teaspoon of honey. Apply to the face or area of skin to be treated for ten minutes, then rinse and continue with your normal treatment.
And finally the seeds
When cutting the pumpkin do not throw away the seeds. You can simply separate them from the pulp, immerse them in water and remove the filaments with your fingers. Then, arrange the seeds on a baking sheet covered with baking paper and bake them in the oven at 200° C for 15 minutes. Exposure to heat increases the antioxidant properties of pumpkin seeds (Akomolafe et al, J Food Biochem, 2021). Not only that, pumpkin seeds have also been shown to help relieve the symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (Medjakovic et al, Phytotherapy, 2016). In addition, including pumpkin seeds in one's diet has been shown to help control blood sugar, prevent diabetes and its complications (Saavedra et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2015). Finally, the seeds also contain substances capable of stimulating the immune system and protecting the heart, reducing blood pressure (Haoxin et al, Food Sci Nutr, 2020). The only advice is not to exceed the recommended daily dose, about one tablespoon, as pumpkin seeds are caloric.