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Diabetes is a life-long condition, primarily characterized by high blood glucose levels. It reduces the body’s capacity to convert food into energy.[1] People with diabetes need to manage this condition by taking medicines, checking blood glucose levels regularly, exercising and planning their diet adequately.[2]

Studies suggest the traditional use of pumpkin to control diabetes.[3] This article will review how pumpkin may affect blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.

What happens in diabetes?

Diabetes, in which the glucose levels in the blood increase, is categorized into three main types – Type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women and usually goes away after delivery. In type 1 diabetes, the body stops the secretion of insulin due to an autoimmune condition, whereas in type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to use insulin, thus leading to increased blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is a more common occurrence than type 1. Increased blood glucose for a long time causes severe health issues that may affect vision and vital organs such as the kidneys and heart.[1]

What is the effect of pumpkin on people with diabetes?

Studies show that many people with diabetes use herbal products to improve blood glucose control.[4] Furthermore, researchers have reported several pharmacological activities of different species of pumpkin.[4] The bioactive chemicals from fruit pulp and oil from non-germinated seeds of pumpkin have sugar-lowering properties.[3] Based on some animal and clinical studies, scientists proposed the following mechanisms by which pumpkin lowers blood glucose levels:[3-5]

  • Increase in serum insulin levels and anti-oxidant activity[3,4]
  • Restore and repair of the islet of Langerhans (cells in the pancreas that produce insulin) and improve insulin sensitivity[5]
  • Improved functioning and glucose utilization by the liver[5]

Some researchers have proven that the daily consumption of pumpkin may positively affect blood glucose control and pancreatic cells.[3]

Pumpkin pie-lets

Here’s a delicious recipe containing pumpkin that people with diabetes can use to add some taste to their daily food with the additional advantage of lowering blood glucose.[6]

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place a foil sheet. Put nine mini filo shells on the baking sheet.
  • Mix half cup of pumpkin puree, half teaspoon of oat flour, one-fourth teaspoon of pumpkin spice, and salt in a bowl.
  • Whisk two egg whites with a half teaspoon of vanilla extract, one-fourth teaspoon of ground cinnamon and one-eighth teaspoon of baking powder in the above bowl.
  • Divide the filling and place on the top of nine filo shells, bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven and decorate with sugar-free whipped cream.

People with diabetes have traditionally been using pumpkin, and researchers have also proven the glucose-lowering action of pumpkin now.[3,7] Pumpkin has low-sugar and low-calorie content. One can consume it fresh as a vegetable or as one of the ingredients in pies or soups.[7] Further clinical studies are needed to prove that pumpkin is beneficial. Researchers should look into creating novel antidiabetic medications with the active compounds in pumpkin.[7]

People with diabetes can include pumpkin in their diet after getting medical advice from their doctor or a nutritionist.

Plan your diet wisely; include pumpkin and control blood glucose!

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes. [Internet]. [Updated 2019 Aug 6; cited 2020 Feb 12]. Available from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/diabetes.html.
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Diabetes mellitus: overview management and treatment. [Internet]. [Updated 2018 Oct 2; cited 2020 Feb 12]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7104-diabetes-mellitus-an-overview/management-and-treatment.
  3. Alenazi B, Deeb A, Alrowaili A, Alkhaldi A, Malanazi.M. Does pumpkin affect glycemic control in a diabetic patient? Case report and literature review. EJPMR, 2017;4(9):42-45.
  4. Mahmoodpoor A, Medghalchi M, Nazemiyeh H, Asgharian P, Shadvar K et al. Effect of Cucurbita maxim+- an on control of blood glucose in diabetic critically ill patients. Adv Pharm Bull. 2018 Jun;8(2):347-351. DOI: 10.15171/apb.2018.040. Epub 2018 Jun 19.
  5. Jin H, Zhang YJ, Jiang JX, Zhu LY, Chen P Li J, et al. Studies on the extraction of pumpkin components and their biological effects on blood glucose of diabetic mice. J Food Drug Anal. 2013; 21:184-189.
  6. American Diabetic Association. Diabetes food-hub. Perfect pumpkin pie-lets. [Internet]. [Cited 2020 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.diabetesfoodhub.org/recipes/perfect-pumpkin-pie-lets.html.
  7. Alsuhaibani AMA, Al-Kuraieef AN. Effect of low-calorie pumpkin jams fortified with soybean on diabetic rats: a study of chemical and sensory properties. J Food Qual. 2018 Nov 15;9408715. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9408715.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for patient awareness only. This has been written by qualified experts and scientifically validated by them. Wellthy or it’s partners/subsidiaries shall not be responsible for the content provided by these experts. This article is not a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Please always check with your doctor before trying anything suggested on this article/website.