Can pumpkins ward off diabetes?

The biologically active ingredients in pumpkins could assist in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, researchers suspect. (Credit: iStockphoto)

Pumpkins may or may not fend off evil spirits on Halloween, but scientists suspect they do possess medicinal properties that could help treat diabetes.

The materials inside pumpkins such as the fruit pulp, oil from ungerminated seeds, and protein from germinated seeds have hypoglycemic properties.


These biologically active ingredients—polysaccharides, para-aminobenzoic acid, vegetable oils, sterol, proteins, and peptides—could assist in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, researchers suspect.

Gary Adams from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham is investigating the effect these ingredients have on blood sugar and diabetes

“There are many different types of insulins available to treat diabetes, but there are still physiological consequences for such use. Alternatives are, therefore, required and this includes herbal preparations as well as dietary plants in the form of curcubitaceae (pumpkin).”

Adams is working with colleagues at Abant Izzet Baysal University in Turkey, where he is a visiting professor, to characterize the interactions of macromolecules. Their latest findings were published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

“Both the pulp—the soft flesh—and seeds of naturally sourced pumpkins are extracted from cucurbits (pumpkins) and the components within these gourds are characterized/examined using specialized instruments in our laboratory.

“By using these instruments, we are able, in part, to determine the actual components that might be responsible for reducing blood sugar especially in patients presenting with diabetes.”

Source: University of Nottingham