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Pregnancy is a delicate time, and maintaining a healthy diet during this time is of prime importance. If you are pregnant, your body will require additional nutrients (vitamins and minerals included) for the proper growth of your baby. If you’re a healthy eater, you won’t have to make big changes in your daily diet (except for including supplements and a list of foods suggested by your gynaecologist.), but that won’t stop you from questioning whether or not everything that you eat is safe. In this article, we will talk about one particular fruit – pumpkin – we will tell you whether or not you can eat them during pregnancy.
Pumpkins are one of the most nutritious fruits out there. Yes, pumpkin is a fruit, at least scientifically, as it contains seeds. However, the nutritional profile of pumpkins is more similar to veggies than fruit. But the question is if they are safe for consumption by a pregnant woman. Let’s find out!
Nutritional Value of Pumpkins
Pumpkins are highly nutritious and a great source of essential Vitamins, like Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C and minerals like iron and zinc. They are packed with antioxidants too. Pumpkin seeds also offer immense health benefits to a pregnant woman. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids. 100 grams of pumpkin has approximately 26 calories and almost no cholesterol or saturated fats. It’s a wonderous fruit for pregnant women!
Health Benefits of Eating Pumpkins During Pregnancy
As mentioned above, pumpkin offers various nutrients, so you can incorporate this fruit in your pregnancy diet. A storehouse of various vital nutrients, pumpkin provides ample nutrition not only to you but also to your baby. It is loaded with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Some of the benefits are mentioned below:
- Helps Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Check
Pumpkins are very effective in keeping your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. But in order to reap maximum benefit from pumpkins, you should eat them plain, i.e., without adding extra sugar.
- Keeps Constipation at Bay
Many women complain of constipation during pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may hamper with your digestive system and you may experience constipation. To treat this problem, eat pumpkins. As pumpkins are an excellent source of protein and fibre, eating this fruit will ensure that your digestive system works fine and thus you won’t feel constipated.
- Helps With Abdominal Cramps
Pumpkins work really well in keeping pregnancy cramps in check. You may consume pumpkins in any form to get relief from pregnancy cramps.
Benefits of Eating Pumpkin Seeds During Pregnancy
Just like pumpkin, pumpkin seeds too offer various health benefits. Read on to know what health benefits you may derive by consuming pumpkins seeds in pregnancy.
- Helps Keep Mood Swings in Check
Zinc is very beneficial for a pregnant woman, and pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc. Eating pumpkin seeds will help keep your mood swings in check and even help strengthen your immune system.
- May Keep Your Heart Healthy
Eating pumpkin seeds can be very good for your heart. Including them in your pregnancy diet will help your heart to pump blood properly. Apart from this, they will also help in the formation of your baby’s bones and teeth.
- May Help You Sleep Better
If you have trouble sleeping during pregnancy, eat pumpkin seeds. Eating a few pumpkin seeds before bedtime may help you sleep better. Tryptophan, an amino acid in pumpkin seeds gets converted into melatonin, a sleep hormone, and thus helps a person sleep better. So try this trick if you have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Helps Control Gestational Diabetes
Pumpkin seeds are great for keeping insulin levels of the body in control and thus controlling gestational diabetes in pregnancy. If you have gestational diabetes – eating pumpkin seeds may help control it.
- Helps in the Brain Development of the Foetus
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats. These help in foetal brain development. So eat away pumpkin seeds!
Side Effects of Eating Pumpkins While Pregnant
Eating pumpkins while pregnancy can benefit your health greatly, no doubt, but as with any other fruit or vegetable, consuming it in large quantities may lead to some complications. Pumpkins, when consumed in large amounts may lead to stomach ache because of the high fibre content in them. Sometimes, pumpkins may also cause an allergic reaction which may lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, vomiting or abdominal cramps, though there is not enough scientific proof supporting such reactions in pregnant women. Therefore, it is suggested to include this fruit in your diet in moderate amounts and avoid probable health complications in pregnancy.
Pumpkin Recipes You Can Try During Pregnancy
Here are some easy and sumptuous pumpkin recipes that you can try and enjoy during pregnancy.
1. Pumpkin and Lentil Soup
If you want an appetizer, there is nothing like pumpkin soup! Plus when it is a combination of pumpkin with lentils, it will be all the more healthy! Here is how you can make pumpkin and lentil soup!
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 chopped, medium-sized onions
- 1 small pumpkin (approximately 700-800 grams), without the skin and seeds
- 1 cup or 100 grams split red lentils
- 1 litre of vegetable stock
- Salt to taste and a pinch of sugar
- Half a cup of fresh cream
How to Make
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add the onions and fry till golden brown.
- Next, add the chopped garlic, pumpkin flesh and lentils, and stir well.
- Add in the vegetable stock, give it a nice stir, and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook for about 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring in between!
- After some time the pumpkin pieces will be tender. Turn off the flame and let it cool.
- Once cool, blend the pumpkin mix, then add in some cream and blend again, then strain.
- Take the soup in a bowl and garnish with some fresh cream.
2. Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
If you love to eat the very healthy pumpkin seeds, we are sure you will love to eat when they are a bit spicy too. Here’s how you can make spicy pumpkin seeds!
- 1 ½ cups of raw pumpkin seeds
- 2-3 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
- A pinch of garlic salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
How to Make
- Preheat the oven to 140° C.
- Mix all the ingredients well and place them well in a baking tray.
- Bake for an hour or till done.
1. When Should You Not Eat Pumpkins?
If you are allergic to pumpkins, it is best that you avoid eating them during pregnancy.
2. What Pumpkin-Based Foods Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
Pumpkins are very healthy but if you eat pumpkin chips or pumpkin pie, it may not be very good for your health, especially during pregnancy. So avoid eating pumpkin-based junk food like pumpkin pies, pumpkin candies, or a pumpkin cake.
Including pumpkins in your pregnancy diet can help meet some of your nutritional requirements. That said, you should eat pumpkins in moderate amounts as eating too much of pumpkins can lead to stomach issues. Have a balanced diet – eat everything that is safe to consume during pregnancy – it will benefit you and your baby. And do consult your doctor or nutritionist before including this fruit in your pregnancy diet!