Thought to have originated in the Andes and Mesoamerica
Among many ancient cultures of the Americas, as well a few European countries, there are numerous examples of pumpkin and its seed being used as a medicine. Listed below are some of the traditional medicinal actions prescribed by different cultures.
The Yuma tribe that live in the states of California and Arizona used a topical paste of pumpkin and watermelon seeds to help wounds heal. On the other side of the United States the Catawba tribe of Carolina and Oklahoma used fresh and dry pumpkin seeds as a kidney tonic. In the North Eastern United States the Menominee would use fresh squash and pumpkin seeds as a medicine to help with urinary tract infection. All of these prescribed medicinal uses of pumpkin were then handed to the first European settlers who used this knowledge and added their own. A concoction made from the fresh seeds became very well known as the best cure for expelling intestinal worms while the stem of the pumpkin was used to help women during menstrual periods.
In Eastern Europe there has always been large amounts of pumpkin seeds consumed. As a consequence there is a traditional regard for pumpkin seeds among men who believe that the seeds help keep their libido healthy well into old age.
Pumpkin Seeds have always been known specifically to be a great source of minerals. As well as a strong mineral base pumpkin seeds are very high in protein and fibre. This combination makes them an excellent food source to help support nerve function, keep blood healthy, support the maintenance of muscle and bone, and regulate the bowl. Pumpkin is also very low in sugar and high in essential fatty acids. Cold pressed oil from the pumpkin seed is known to be very healthy while the remaining ‘cake’ after pressing is used to make a protein rich powder. This powder consists of up to 65% protein and is a great Vegan/Vegetarian ingredient to help supplement protein into the diet. Containing all the essential amino acids, pumpkin seed protein might be of great interest to athletes and bodybuilders, looking for an alternative to soy, egg and milk proteins. Protein is needed by the body to repair and sustain muscle function during ‘protein syntheses’. If the body is burning protein to sustain energy levels during heavy exercise, then to gain muscle mass extra protein needs to be given to the body for it to rebuild the separated muscle tissue. Pumpkin Protein Powder therefore is a great supplement to take before or after strenuous exercise.
Pumpkin seeds are usually eaten dried, whole. A modern use of pumpkin seeds is to extract its protein element and create a protein rich powder to supplement the diet, removing much of the carbohydrate and fibre. This preparation is sought after by vegan athletes and those looking to supplement their diet with vegan high protein food.
The pumpkin that we know today as the round, plump and orange vegetable actually comes from the ancestry of the simple, much smaller, hooked neck, and non-descript gourd. As a food the gourd has been eaten from about 5,500 BC by Native American tribes of both North and South America. Archaeological excavations in Mexico, central and South America and the eastern United States have revealed that the ancient peoples of the Americas only ate the seeds and didn’t bother with the flesh of the gourd. This is thought to be because the flesh of early gourds were very bitter to taste. Later, as Native American tribes started to select and breed pumpkin/gourd for a sweeter taste, they started to consume the flesh and even the flowers of the gourds. Traditionally the flesh would be roasted into strips and then dried to be used as a winter food. Even the outer casing would be dried and used as water vessels and bowls.
When maize was introduced, pumpkins were grown alongside beans and corn by the sides of rivers. This trio of vegetables came to be called the ‘three sisters’ and was a sustainable crop that would act as a companion planting regime. The beans fixed nitrogen in the soil while the corn operated as a trellis for the beans; the pumpkin would provide ground cover and prevent the soil from becoming overly dry. This complete system of cultivation would then be supplemented by burying a fish near the roots. The fish was an offering to the earth and an unwitting nutrient source to the vegetables. The ancient relatives of the pumpkin came in all shapes, sizes and colours which have now mostly been replaced with the common orange commercial pumpkin varieties for the Halloween period.
Dried whole Pumpkin Seeds.
As well as protein and low sugar dried pumpkin seeds also contains a whole host of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
Folates, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E-γ
Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc and Phosphorus.
Sodium and Potassium.
Carotene-β, Crypto-xanthin-β and Lutein-zeaxanthin