Q: I heard that pumpkin is extremely nutritious. Is consumption of pumpkin recommended during pregnancy?

    A: The pumpkin is the fruit of the Cucurbita species. This Halloween and Thanksgiving staple is widely used in cooking since most of its parts like the fleshy shell, the seeds and the flowers are edible.

    Pumpkins are good for pregnant women. They can be served boiled, baked, steamed or roasted or used in soups and purees. You can roast the seeds and eat them as a snack. Small and green pumpkins may be relished in the same way as zucchini. You can also mash them and consume them.

    They can relieve abdominal cramps during pregnancy if you cook them, steam them and add to stir/fry or eat them as a soup or pie. Pumpkins are highly nutritious. Pumpkins contain 1.3 g Protein, 0.3 g Fat, 9.9 g Carbohydrates, 26,908 IU Vitamin A, 0.03 mg Vitamin B1, 0.07 Vitamin B2, 0.4 mg Niacin, 5mg Vitamin C, 32mg Calcium, 42 mg Phosphorus and 1.7 mg Iron. Their very high Vitamin A content in particular makes them very important during the pregnancy phase.

    Pumpkin is healthy and filled with Carotene a percursor to Vitamin A. You cannot get too much Vitamine A by eating Carotene because the body regulates conversion from carotene to Vitamin A. Although carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, excessive ingestion of carotene causes carotenemia, not vitamin A toxicity. Carotenemia is usually asymptomatic but may lead to carotenodermia, in which the skin becomes yellow. When taken as a supplement, β-carotene has been associated with increased cancer risk; risk does not appear to increase when carotenoids are consumed in fruits and vegetables.

    Pumpkins can also eliminate dysentery, eczema and edema. They reduce blood sugar levels when consumed without sugar. They help to de-worm your intestines and clear up the spleen. They improve conditions of malnutrition. They can also relieve bronchial infections.

    Pumpkin seeds are especially beneficial for expecting mothers. They contain high amounts of protein, zinc and other vitamins. They also are thought reduce cholesterol to safe levels. One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains an amount of Tryptophan equivalent to a glass of milk. These seeds supply lots of magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and phytosterols that improve the function of the liver and your body's immunity. Pumpkin seed oil contains fatty acids that make the blood vessels, tissues and the nerves healthy. Pumpkin is also rich in fiber that is much needed by expectant women to relieve conditions of constipation common during pregnancy.