Pumpkins are more than bright orange decorations for Halloween and the basis of a tasty pumpkin pie – they can be an amazing source of nutrition and health. The key is looking beyond the bright orange shell to the benefits inside. What better way to do that than a little trivia? These eight insights will help you look at this fall vegetable in a different light and teach you a few interesting facts you probably don’t know.
Pumpkins are all-American.
The earliest pumpkins have been traced back to Northern Mexico and the American Southwest, sprouting between 7,000 and 5,500 B.C. They were brought to other parts of the world by travelers and conquistadors. Pumpkins are now cultivated on every continent except Antarctica.
Part of what makes pumpkin so full of nutrition is that almost all of the plant can be eaten. The shell, seeds, leaves, and even the flowers are edible and delicious when prepared right. They can be steamed, roasted, boiled, or dried, while the leaves and flowers are used as snacks or soup flavorings.
A serving of pumpkin (one cup) contains nearly 300 percent of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin A. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, iron, and manganese, as well as containing nearly 5 mg per serving of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
A serving of roasted seeds (one cup) contains twelve grams of protein with no cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin A, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Pumpkins are some of the thirstiest and hungriest foods in your garden.
Pumpkins require large amounts of water and soil nutrients. This vegetable is 90% water. They drink in an average of an inch per week. They also love to suck nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients out of the soil.
Illinois is the pumpkin state.
Approximately 95 percent of all the processed pumpkin in the United States is grown in Illinois. In case you’re curious, that’s nearly 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin! Even more surprising? Nestle Corporation, a famous chocolate company, produces 85 percent of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. During a rainy year in Illinois it has been known to damage the crop. The damaged crop in Illinois leads to pumpkin shortages across the country.
Vegetables of unusual size.
While the average Connecticut field pumpkin weighs in between eight and fifteen pounds, some pumpkins can grow to well over 1,000 pounds. The current world record holder in the giant pumpkin category is Chris Stevens, who grew an Atlantic Giant pumpkin to a shocking 1,810 pounds in 2010.
This vegetable can cure what ails you.
Historical folk remedies recommended pumpkin as a cure for freckles, but modern science is researching how this vegetable helps cure elements of both diabetes and cancer. It turns out that some of the same phytochemicals that give pumpkin its unique color can also help regulate glucose and insulin production in diabetics. Meanwhile, early research is promising for breast and prostate cancer patients who take pumpkin seed oil, as the alpha-linolenic acid it contains can prevent metastases and the spread of the disease.
Animals benefit too.
It’s not just people who benefit from this vegetable – animals get a lot out of it, too. Cats and dogs with digestive problems can be treated with canned pumpkin. Chickens that are fed pumpkin in the wintertime lay more eggs than other hens. This vegetable can also be used to plump out feed for horses, cattle, and pigs.
A major sporting event.
Though you may not think of a pumpkin as a piece of sports equipment, there are thousands of people who love nothing more than a good pumpkin chucking (Punkin’ Chunkin’) competition. There’s a World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association and more than 100 teams compete in the world championship games held annually in Delaware.
In this “game” the objective is to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Think it won’t go far? World championship events routine cross 1,000 feet, while in 2010, a team showcasing their skills in Moab, Utah, shot a pumpkin 5,545 feet, earning themselves a Guinness World Record.
Let us know if you have any more fun facts about this amazing fall vegetable in the comments below.