Health & Care
For the Birds Parrot Rescue & Sanctuary
Cucurbit is a genus of vines in the gourd family known as squash, pumpkins, or gourds, which produce edible fruit and seeds. Most of us classify them into two types ... Summer Squash and Winter Squash. The fruits of the genus Cucurbita are good sources of nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin C, among other nutrients depending on the species.
Sumer squash is mostly water (94%) with a small percentage of carbohydrates (3%) and protein (1%) with negligible fat content (table). 100 grams of raw squash supplies 16 calories and is rich in vitamin C, moderate in vitamin B6 and riboflavin; other than that there is little other nutrient content in summer squash.
Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamins A (in its pre-vitamin carotenoid form) and C. It's also a very good source dietary fiber, B6, manganese and copper, and a good source of potassium, B2, folate, vitamin K, pantothenic acids.
The seeds are good too ... they provide unsaturated and saturated oils, palmitic, oleic
and linoleic fatty acids, as well as carotenoids.
We think of winter squash as being very starchy and it's true that about 90% of the total calories come from carbohydrates. It's also true that about half of these carbohydrates are "starch-like" in composition. But, recent research shows that all starch is not the same and the starch content of winter squash brings along with it some key health benefits.
Many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins, which are specially structured polysaccharides that often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. An increasing number of animal studies show that the starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.
Check out this page which contains about everything you'd want to know about Winter Squash.
A word on Toxins ...
Cucurbitacin is a plant steroid present in wild Cucurbita and in each member of the family Cucurbitaceae. Poisonous to mammals,it is found in quantities sufficient to discourage herbivores. It makes wild Cucurbita and most ornamental gourds bitter to taste. Ingesting too much cucurbitacin can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and even collapse. This bitterness is especially prevalent in wild Cucurbita, while the process of domestication has largely removed the bitterness from cultivated varieties there are occasional reports of cucurbitacin causing illness in humans.