The pumpkin belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, very rich in variety both in terms of shape and color. The best known species are Cucurbita maxima (sweet squash) and Cucurbita moschata (pie squash or pepona squash). In Italy this vegetable is grown mainly in the north.

A bit of history

The term pumpkin comes from "cocutia" (head), then transformed into "cocuzza" and, finally, pumpkin. It is native to Central America and the most ancient seeds, found in Mexico, date back to 7000-6000 BC. In North America the pumpkin was in fact a "staple" food of the Indians' diet and in fact the first settlers learned from them to cultivate it. Together with the potato and tomato, it was one of the first vegetables exported to Europe after the discovery of America.


Despite the full and very sweet flavor, pumpkin is a low- calorie food, thanks to the low content of sugars and fats , offset by high percentages of fiber, vitamins and mineral salts: 100 grams of pumpkin, in fact, provide only 26 calories, thanks to the high water content.

It contains several minerals , among which calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium and magnesium stand out, and vitamins , in particular beta-carotene, precursor of vitamin A, vitamins of group B and vitamin C.

This would already be enough, in addition to its flavor, to make it a food to be adored. But what are the benefits it can bring to the body?

Properties and benefits

  • Prevents cardiovascular diseases: it contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and, therefore, cellular aging. It is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, an ideal ally both for reducing cholesterol and triglycerides and for lowering blood pressure, thus decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart attacks.
  • Counteracts constipation: the high fiber content, combined with the high percentage of water, favors the correct intestinal transit as it modifies the consistency of the faeces and rebalances the commensal bacterial flora.
  • It removes insomnia and anxiety: everyday life leads to accumulation of stress and physical fatigue: all this translates into tiredness, muscle contracture and a state of anxiety or agitation. Pumpkin contains magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant that facilitates muscle relaxation, and tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin, the good mood hormone.
  • Protects the urinary tract and removes intestinal worms: Cucurbitine, a rare and precious amino acid found above all in pumpkin seeds, has strong vermifuge and antiparasitic properties and has proved to be very useful in combating urinary tract disorders, in particular prostatitis and cystitis.
  • Nourishes and protects skin, hair and nails: Vitamins and antioxidants make pumpkin pulp an excellent beauty ally, especially in the preparation of DIY masks and creams, emollients for the body and fortifying hair and nails that are fragile and they tend to break.

Pumpkin in nutrition

Pumpkin can be steamed, boiled, stewed or baked in the oven. The pulp is very digestible and is ideal for feeding children and the elderly : it can be blended or simply mashed, after cooking, to make a puree to accompany food, as a side dish.

Pumpkin seeds are also suitable for food consumption, plus they also boast numerous properties. From the crushed fresh pumpkin seeds a dark oil is extracted very appreciated in the kitchen, while, toasted and salted, they are often served as "snacks" and can be a healthy and light snack .


Properties of pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds also have a medicinal function, in fact they are very suitable for combating intestinal parasitic phenomena. This property derives from cucurbit , an amino acid that “paralyzes” the worm and causes it to detach from the intestinal wall. They are also able to relieve skin inflammation and prevent urinary tract dysfunction. They are a great source of magnesium and Omega-3, having an anti-inflammatory and support function for the cardiovascular system.

In addition, pumpkin seeds are useful to prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (or enlargement of the prostate) and to support therapy against urinary tract dysfunctions in general.


The pumpkin is the quintessential symbol of the Halloween party. The tradition is linked to the legend of Jack O'Lantern , a slacker to whom the devil gave an ember that would illuminate the way to the underworld, an ember that Jack placed in a hollowed out turnip to make it last longer.

Not everyone knows, in fact, that originally the vegetable symbol of Halloween was precisely the turnip. It was replaced by pumpkin following the great emigration of the Irish to America, due to the shortage of turnips and abundance of pumpkins in the New Continent. According to tradition, the lamp built with the pumpkin helps to keep evil spirits away.

Also Italian tradition

Even in Italy the pumpkin is the protagonist of uses and customs not far from the Anglo-Saxon ones. In the Polesine , a traditional production area, once the peasants made the “ lumassa ”, that is a pumpkin in which holes were made and in which a candle or a light was placed. It was placed in dark places to simulate playful appearances of dead souls and to exorcise the fear of death.

Find pumpkin seed extract at SOS Prostata .

The pharmacological power of food, Nutritional Biotherapy: the practical application, D. Arcari Morini, A. D'Eugenio, F. Aufiero, Ed. Red, Milan 2005.