Thursday, August 06, 2020

Nutrient composition of pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin belongs to the genus Cucurbita and family Cucurbitaceae are grown widely around the world as a vegetable. In the USA, they are vastly used for Halloween carvings and thanksgiving feasts. Like other members of Cucurbitaceae, pumpkin fruits bear numerous seeds.

The seed content of pumpkin fruit varies from 3.52% to 4.27%. It has high nutritional value, provides good quality oil, and excellent source of protein and have pharmacological activities such as antidiabetic, antifungal, antibacterial and antiinflammation activities, and antioxidant effects. Pumpkin seeds have historically been used to produce oil, fortify breads, consumed as a snack or even for medicinal purposes.

Pumpkin seed is high in oil, protein, and total unsaturated fatty acids (TUFA) and provides an important source of nutrition and income globally. Researchers found that pumpkin seeds contained, 25.4% protein, 5.2 % moisture, 25.19% carbohydrates, 5.34% fibre, and 2.49% total ash.

The oil content ranged from 11 to 31 %. Total unsaturated fatty acid content ranged from 73 to 81 %. The predominance of linoleic, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids was observed. The α-tocopherol content of the oils ranged from 27 to 75 mg/g, while γ -tocopherol ranged from 75 to 493 mg/g.

The high levels of unsaturated fatty acids (oleic and linoleic acids) in pumpkin seed oil provide health benefits that reduce risks of arteriosclerosis and heart-related ailments. Pumpkin seed contains significant levels of antioxidants (tocopherols and tocotrienols) that have been associated with a reduced risk of gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancer.

Cold press or steam distillation is used for oil extraction. The dark greenish-red oil is used for cooking, as marinade or salad dressing and it has already been touted as a contender to olive oil. It is being used in many epicurean delights, viz. chocolate, cereal bar, bread, cake, muffin, soup, pesto, stew and pasta garnish. Pumpkin seed butter is considered as a great alternative to peanut butter. In addition, pumpkin seed oil can be purchased by the bottle for use in salads, or as formulated capsules in health food stores.

Nutrient composition of pumpkin seeds

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