Diabetes, a condition caused by insufficient insulin in the blood or lack of proper movement of the same, has today become increasingly common in people of all age groups. It is one of the most common disorders that is caused due to a sedentary lifestyle and wrong food choices, said Preety Tyagi, lead health coach, nutritionist and founder, MY22BMI.
“A diabetes patient has to be mindful of what they choose to eat to keep their blood sugar level under check. Uncontrolled levels can have an adverse effect on their health, especially heart, kidneys, and eyes,” she said.
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As such, many diabetics feel confused about what foods they can and cannot eat. One such vegetable is pumpkin or kaddu.
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According to Tyagi, pumpkin is more than just a Halloween food item. “It is a low-calorie food item. And when we talk about its nutritional content, a cup of cooked pumpkin (100g) has around 50 calories, 11-gram carbs, zero fat, and about 10 per cent of fibre which is much needed for the body,” said Tyagi.
What is the glycemic index of pumpkin?
Glycemic index (GI) indicates the number of carbs in a food item, and can cause a spike in your blood sugar level. Pumpkin has a high GI, at 75, which makes a perception of it not being good for diabetes patients. “But one also needs to see it in the context of the impact of its carbs on the body’s blood sugar level — which is very low. Thus, pumpkin is actually a safe bet for diabetic patients,” explained Tyagi.
Moreover, animal study on pumpkins shows the presence of a carbohydrate called polysaccharides and a compound called Puerarin which regulate the sugar in the blood, and a high level of fibre in pumpkin reduces the pace of digestion, and thus the sugar released in the body is gradual. “Pumpkin seeds, which have now become a rage amongst health-conscious, are high in magnesium and useful in lowering the blood glucose level. Apart from all these benefits, it is a rich source of vitamin E which increases immunity, vitamin A which improves eyesight, and is a good antioxidant benefiting the body by flushing out toxins and keeping the skin healthy too,” Tyagi said.
What should one be mindful of?
However, it is important to realise that overconsumption of anything can be harmful to health. So, having a lot of pumpkins at once can cause a sudden spike in insulin and can be harmful for health. “Moreover, it can cause constipation,” she said.
Furthermore, pumpkins are a popular choice when it comes to desserts. So it is also pertinent for diabetic patients to note the form they are consuming the vegetable in, since the quantity and form are the key factors that can deviate it from being beneficial and healthy. Tyagi suggested having the vegetable as a soup, roasted, baked or steamed, instead of as a sweet pie, pastry or halwa.
“Pumpkin seeds are the most versatile and can be used in smoothies, yoghurt, salads, breakfast cereal, and so much more. So, pumpkin can be the new healthy and tasty addition to everybody’s diet if used in a smart and controlled fashion,” she added.