Pumpkin Seed Oil
Cucurbita pepo is native to the Americas and familiar to us today as the Halloween pumpkin and as the main ingredient of the traditional, North American dessert, pumpkin pie. It belongs to the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family and was one of the staple foods and medicinal plants of the Native Americans.
The fruits range from yellow to bright orange in colour and can grow very large and heavy - the current record being 766kg. There are many annual record-breaking attempts - from growing the largest to how fast one can carve a face into a pumpkin. (Can you beat 24 seconds?)
The edible flesh, encased in a tough outer shell, contains inner membrane and seeds, both of which are removed before preparing pumpkin dishes or carving Jack-o-lanterns. The seeds are usually coated in a thin husk (although huskless varieties exist) and are extremely nutritious.
Halloween celebrations wouldn’t be the same without Jack-o’-lanterns, but the tradition originated in the British Isles and other vegetables were used, such as the turnip, before the pumpkin became the popular choice.
Native Americans grew pumpkins as a staple food alongside beans and corn. When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they knew nothing of the pumpkin, but quickly learned of its nutritional value. In Europe, pumpkins are treated as vegetables, and in North America, the sweet pumpkin pie has become a seasonal staple of Autumn, served particularly on Thanksgiving Day.
Pumpkin seeds have a nutty flavour and can be toasted or eaten raw, once shelled. The oil is best consumed uncooked and can be poured directly over salad or vegetables.
Pumpkin seed oil contains zinc, magnesium, carotenoids and a good balance of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). It is also very high in vitamin E, which makes it highly suitable for use in cosmetics. Vitamin E is said to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Studies also suggest that topical application of it can decrease skin roughness, dryness and fine lines.
The constituents of pumpkin seed oil may explain why it has been traditionally popular for rough, dry, scarred or damaged skin. It is also said to help prevent the formation of stretch marks.
In our Shave The Planet shaving cream, pumpkin seed oil can help to soothe skin roughness and moisturise dry skin.