6 Things You May Not Know About Pumpkins
Pumpkins are more than just a Halloween decoration. In fact, these orange gourds have a long and storied history dating back to ancient times. Here are six things you probably didn't know about pumpkins.
Six Things You Probably Didn't Know About Pumpkins
Now, let’s go over some of the facts that you probably didn’t know about pumpkins!
1. Pumpkins are part of the cucurbit family
This is something that a lot of people don't know. These “often thought to be veggies” are actually a fruit! Part of the cucurbit family which includes cucumbers, squash, and melons. Because pumpkins are technically a fruit, it makes them one of the most versatile ingredients you can use! That's why they can be used in savory dishes as well as sweet ones. Plus, with the right carving knife, they make for the perfect Jack'O'Latern to decorate your entire home with!
2. Pumpkins are native to North America and have been around for 5,000 years.
Pumpkins were first brought to Europe by early explorers and have been grown there since the 16th century. Ever since, they’ve been grown in the ground or in metal raised garden beds, whatever gets the job done! Until now, we've seen some small ones and some incredibly big ones.
The biggest pumpkin on record right now is 2,702 lbs and is held by a Minnesota grower named Travis Gienger. For reference, the man was standing next to the pumpkin, and it would've still needed several other people to stand around it to be fully hidden! That's a lot of pumpkin pies!
3. Pumpkins are a good source of fiber and beta-carotene.
The body converts fiber and beta-carotene into vitamin A. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 7 grams of fiber and over 20 milligrams of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage, and it's also responsible for giving pumpkins their characteristic orange color.
Vitamin A is important for vision, immune function, and cell growth. So not only are pumpkins a tasty treat, but they're also good for you!
4. Pumpkin seeds are also nutritious.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron, magnesium, zinc, and protein. They also contain phytosterols, which are compounds that can help lower cholesterol levels. To get the most benefit from pumpkin seeds, it's best to eat them raw or roasted. You can also add them to salads, granola, or yogurt for a little extra crunch.
5. Pumpkins were used as medicine
Pumpkins have been used for centuries in traditional medicine. The seeds were commonly used to rid the body of tapeworms, and the flesh was used to treat snake bites and toothaches. That's because of the high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in pumpkins. The effects were so great that people would grow them in raised garden beds just to feed it to livestock regularly to keep any potential issues at bay!
Nowadays, we know that pumpkins can help improve vision, boost immunity, and fight inflammation. So next time you're feeling under the weather, consider reaching for a pumpkin soup or smoothie instead of chicken noodle soup.
6. Pumpkins are grown all over the world.
While most fruits and vegetables only grow well in certain areas, pumpkins are probably one of the most resilient fruits that you can find. They are now grown in many different countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, China, and Japan. In fact, China is the leading producer of pumpkins, followed by India. Contrary to how important they've been in American pop culture, the US isn't even in the top 5 producers of the fruit. It actually stands at number 8! So you're more likely to encounter more pumpkins outside of the US compared to inside!
Who knew there was so much to learn about pumpkins? These orange gourds have been around for centuries and have played an important role in both American history and pop culture. Not only can this fruit be used to decorate your home, but is also one of the best ingredients to cook with! So next time you're carving a jack-o-lantern or baking a pumpkin pie, take a moment to appreciate all that this humble fruit has to offer.