PHYTOCHEMICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL OVERVIEW OF CUCURBITA MAXIMA AND FUTURE PERSPECTIVE AS POTENTIAL PHYTOTHERAPEUTIC AGENT
G. Neelamma*, B. Durai Swamy and P. Dhamodaran
Cucurbita maxima, winter squash, pumpkin, calabaza, or marrow, is a species in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). Elated cultivated species also known as squash or pumpkins are C. pepo (summer squash, also called marrow), and C. mixta and C. moschata (both of which are also known as pumpkin or winter squash). It can be difficult to ascertain which varieties are derived from which species, because the names “winter squash” and “pumpkin” are used to refer to several different species, and those species may also have other common names. C. maxima plants are frost-intolerant annual herbaceous plants. The stems, more or less prickly, are generally trailing or climbing vines, with tendrils that allow that allow them to clasp supports. Leaves are simple, alternate, and shallowly to deeply lobed. Fruits (technically referred to as pepos) are relatively large and usually require a long growing season for development. Winter squashes are eaten as a vegetable, mashed or in purees, soups, or pies. The blossoms are also edible, and may be cooked into fritters. Seeds are high in protein and minerals, and are eaten raw, toasted, or pressed to make oil. Squash contain mostly carbohydrates, little protein and almost no fat. As its yellow color indicates, squash is filled with the mineral provitamin A, beta-carotene, as well as calcium and potassium. Squash is filled with soluble vegetable fiber, which provides lasting satiation. The soluble fiber in squash provides a mild laxative effect, making it important for digestive health. Summer squash provides a huge supply of antioxidants, with the skin of squash being especially rich in antioxidants. Steaming and freezing, rather than boiling or microwaving, retains the nutrients within squash. Cooking squash with less water preserves the amount of phenolic compounds, which are associated with color vibrancy and flavor in vegetables. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes. In order to receive the full spectrum of nutrients that squash has to offer, eat skin, seeds and flesh. Squash consumption is recommended to regulate blood sugar and for those with type-2 diabetes.
Keywords: Herbaceous, tendrils, beta-carotene, antioxidant and type-2 diabetes etc.
[Full Text Article]