Nutrition

Is Pumpkin Good For People With Diabetes

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

While hollowed out Jack-o'-lanterns on Halloween have given pumpkins a recall value that transcends age, race and culture, pumpkins are known to pack in some amazing health benefits. Pumpkin is one of the finest sources of vitamin A and boasts powerful antioxidants that help in building immunity.

Widely regarded as a vegetable, pumpkin is a variety of winter squash. From the botanical point of view, pumpkin, however, is a fruit. In India, pumpkin is popularly known as Kaddu or Kashifal. The Indian pumpkin has found its way into the recipe of several ayurvedic medicines. It has been accorded the status of national vegetable. Pumpkin is not just about making the best pies and latte. In Indian households, pumpkin is cooked in oil and consumed boiled as well. Pumpkin also serves as an accompaniment in traditional sweets and is used exclusively to make popular variants of Petha

Nutrition Profile

From the nutritional point of view, pumpkins cover a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Data provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests a cup of cooked pumpkin (around 250 grams) provides about 50 calories of energy. Pumpkins are extremely low in fat and have more than 90 per cent of their weight in water. The best part is that there is no trace of cholesterol in a pumpkin. That is good news for people with diabetes who are exposed to the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The nutritional chart for a cup of boiled or cooked pumpkin reads like this:

  • 2 grams of protein
  • Negligible fat
  • 12 grams of carbs 
  • 3 grams of fibre
  • No cholesterol 

You would be surprised to know there are more than 100 varieties of pumpkin. Most of them are edible. And, some, of course, owing to their sheer size, are a Halloween staple. 

Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin boosts immunity and assists in sharper vision and maintaining great-looking skin. It is now being used to ease conditions related to prostate and cancer. Studies have revealed pumpkins to be beneficial in producing natural insulin. 

Pumpkin seeds are a remarkable source of nutrition. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of minerals and antioxidants. They are also used to extract oil, which is used in garnishing and cooking. Pumpkin seeds, also known as Pepitas, make a great seasoning. They can also be served as a ready-to-eat snack. 

If you are looking for a natural source of minerals, pumpkin is your go-to food. Iron, manganese and copper have been found in substantial quantities in pumpkins. Magnesium and phosphorus are also present in pumpkins alongside an impressive range of vitamins that are abundant in this gift of nature. It is home to some prominent vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E.

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Benefits of Pumpkin in Diabetes

So, is pumpkin good for diabetes? If you are faced with this question, remember that pumpkins are great at not just regulating blood sugar levels but also come with remarkable nutritional benefits that double up as wholesome food habits. 

  • Research has shown pumpkins help lower high blood pressure. Bear this in mind if you are wondering, ‘can a diabetics eat pumpkin?’
  • Dietary intake of pumpkins has revealed it to be gentle on the heart. This is linked to the generous dose of magnesium found in pumpkins. Magnesium also aids in lowering triglycerides, which are known to impact the heart badly. 
  • Pumpkins are devoid of any cholesterol and have been labelled as “low-calorie superheroes”.
  • An average adult requires a daily dose of 25 grams to 38 grams of fibre. With one cup of pumpkin, you get 3 grams of dietary fibre. 
  • Besides helping regulate bowel movement, pumpkin fibre is known to slow down the rate at which sugar is absorbed in the bloodstream. 
  • Cooked pumpkin is known to soothe the digestive tract. A good digestion is the key to keeping fit in diabetes. 
  • Studies have shown pumpkins to work on the insulin producing capacity of the body, aiding in regulating blood sugar. 
  • Antioxidants in its seeds are a great immunity booster and are an integral part of pumpkin diabetes treatment

How does Pumpkin affect Blood Sugar?

It is often asked, are pumpkin seeds good for diabetes? Tests conducted on mice fed on pumpkin revealed reduced dependence on insulin administration. This was linked to their ability to start producing more of natural insulin. Since then, studies have proven pumpkin to improve glucose tolerance. 

Pumpkin is beneficial in maintaining desired glucose levels, as indicated by Glycemic Load (GL) and Glycemic Index (GI). Pumpkin ranks high at 75 on the GI scale but registers a substantially low GL at just 3. This essentially means, pumpkin, when taken in moderation, actually assists in regulating blood sugar levels. The dietary fibre in every serving of pumpkin enhances digestive health, which in turn is helpful in diabetes. 

Which brings us to the question: Can diabetics eat pumpkin? The answer is, yes. Pumpkin seeds are a potent source of magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids. But do not overdose on its seeds. 

Different Ways to Consume Pumpkin

Most parts of a pumpkin are edible. Even the flowers and the leaves are used in several cuisines in South America, Africa and Asia as ingredients or for garnishing. There are many ways to consume pumpkin. 

  • As an edible item, pumpkin can be easily consumed after being cooked in oil. You can cook pumpkin in gravy or have a dry sautéed version.
  • The ideal way to have pumpkin is by boiling it and straining it. You can sprinkle it with salt and pepper for a tastier meal.
  • Pumpkin can be used in sambar, a variety of lentils, and cooked with an assortment of vegetables. It can also be used to prepare tasty soups.
  • While pumpkins retain most of their nutritional benefits in canning, canned pumpkin has more fibre than home-cooked or boiled pumpkin.
  • Sweets such as halwa and petha and desserts such as pies are a great way to enjoy your pumpkin, but they are less healthy.

Bottomline

Pumpkin is good for regulating blood sugar levels and also offers many nutritional benefits. It is a good source of vitamin A and contains powerful antioxidants that help in building immunity. It is low in calories, has negligible fat, and more than 90% of its weight is water. There is no cholesterol in a pumpkin, making it even more suitable for people with diabetes.

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