Don’t underestimate the value of celebrating the pumpkin on a day each year. Some people may look at this as a commercial stunt which it has undoubtably become – but it has its roots in a deep culture and it is one of our oldest crops dating back 7,000 years to the Americas. There are many reasons not to roll your eyes or to take your pumpkins for granted.
Pumpkins are nutrient dense
For human health and nutrition globally, pumpkins are up there with the best, containing a suite of phytonutrients and minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, and vitamins A, E, C, and of the B‐complex. The seeds (aka pepitas) are high in iron, manganese, Vitamin K, protein and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (ALA).
Not only that, but pumpkin fibre has also been shown to help moderate insulin response to glucose and improve metabolic diseased factors as for Type II diabetes.
No need to supplement. Just eat the pumpkin.
However, a stand out feature of pumpkins is of course the orange beta-carotene group of pigments. Lutein and zeaxanthin are selectively taken up into the macula of the eye, where they absorb up to 90% of blue light – in Australia macular degeneration from blue light exposure combined with inadequate protection affects about 8% of people globally and is responsible for 50% of blindness in Australia.
It is thought that skin can benefit from protection by lutein and zeaxanthin too, and provide better skin tone and slow aging effects.
There is about 1500 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin in 100g of pumpkin, which is about half the dose recommended to prevent macular degeneration. Eaten alongside leafy greens or our seaweed which also has a lot of lutein - you have your daily intake covered.
Lifesaving Pumpkins against Poverty
Pumpkins can be a lifesaver after catastrophic events like floods, and are used in campaigns such as pumpkins against poverty in Bangladesh. The devastating floods of Bangladesh leave behind barren sand bars where pumpkins are one of the few crops that can be regrown fast to generate activity, food and income for families. They can also be stored for a year without heating, chilling or drying – what an amazing lifesaver of a plant!
Eat them, don't waste them.
However, if we are wasteful with our pumpkins at this time of year – just using them as a decoration, then we are doing the life support systems that produced them for us a big disservice. Unfortunately nearly 1 million tonnes of pumpkins are thrown away each Halloween season.
So celebrate your pumpkin, eat your pumpkin and think about the benefits to your long term eyesight and metabolic health. Don’t forget to add the seaweed – with Pasta, roasted with Phukka, or a Sea C's and pumpkin dip – see – EASY! Did you forget to try Jonica’s pumpkin pasta with SeaSpirals?
Don’t forget – you also get seaweed and pumpkin seeds in PhycoMuesli – the seeds of pumpkins being a very nutritious and one of the most water sustainable crops in the category of nuts and seeds using only 1% of water demand from almonds for example.