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156 Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (1), January 2013
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment Vol.11 (1): 156-158. 2013
Science and Technology
Meri-Rastilantie 3 B, FI-00980
Oil pumpkins – Important source of antioxidants
Edita Juknevičienė *, Judita Černiauskienė, Jurgita Kulaitienė and Živilė Juknevičienė
Institute of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Studentu street 11, LT-53361 Akademija,
Kaunas distr., Lithuania. *e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received 10 October 2012, accepted 20 January 2013.
The objective of the two years study was to investigate the content of the antioxidants in oil pumpkin fruits and seeds of different cultivars
(Golosemiannaja, Herakles and Miranda). Samples of pumpkin seeds were extracted and analyzed for vitamin E (high-performance liquid
chromatography assay), vitamin C (titration method of 2,6-dichlorophenol-indophenol), β-carotene and lutein (Shimadzu HPLC 10A system
analysis), zinc and selenium (by mass spectrometry). Specimens of pumpkin flesh were analysed for total carotenoids (UV-VIS spectrophotometer
assay) and vitamin C. The seeds of ‘Miranda’ accumulated the highest amount of vitamin E (402.93 µg g-1 d.m.). The content of vitamin C in oil
pumpkin flesh ranged from 3.06 to 3.87 mg g-1 fresh mass, in seeds 7.04–8.43 mg g-1 fresh mass. Total carotenoid quantity in flesh of all pumpkin
cultivars was significantly different and ranged from 0.01 to 1.74 mg g-1 fresh mass. The content of lutein in oil pumpkin seeds varied from 25.26 to
162.70 µg g-1 d.m. as well the content of β-carotene from 4.16 to 5.15 µg g-1 d.m. The highest amount of zinc was found in ‘Golosemiannaja’ (65.45
mg kg-1 d.m.), and the highest amount of selenium in ‘Miranda’ (0.09 mg kg-1 d.m.) seeds. Summarising our results, we could to maintain that
‘Golosemiannaja’ seeds are especially rich in antioxidants lutein and zinc. The flesh and seeds of ‘Miranda’ are valuable due to high total carotenoid
content and vitamin E. The seeds of all tested oil pumpkin cultivars accumulated significantly higher amount of vitamin C compared to flesh.
Key words: Oil pumpkin, vitamins, minerals.
Antioxidants of plants have recently attracted growing consumers’
interest. It can be explained with their positive influence on
human’s health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps in
diminishing the risk of cardiovascular disease, some tumor types
and it can protect against other diseases 7. Therefore, it is important
to encourage consumers to choose products abundant in natural
antioxidants, e. g. oil pumpkins. These pumpkins can be used as a
food and in medicine, seeds are perfect material for oil production.
Many people use pumpkin oil as a healthy and tasty food additive.
This oil is rich in vitamin E, which was discovered in 1922 as a
compound necessary to sustain reproductive ability in rodents.
Evans and Bishop determined that rodents fed diets containing
rancid fat produced offspring that were mostly sterile in the first
generation and completely sterile in the second generation. They
concluded that fetal resorption occurred despite the presence of
normal ovarian structure and function 5. Nowadays the most well
known biological function of vitamin E is a chain-breaking
antioxidant that prevents the propagation of lipid peroxidation 4.
Vitamin E has been found to “outcompete” the propagation
reactions so that a single vitamin E molecule is able to protect
about 1000 lipid molecules from the chain-reaction propagation
step 2. Many investigations have shown that vitamin E can
ameliorate the risk of developing chronic diseases, particularly
heart disease, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease 5, 16, 22.
Oil pumpkins flesh and seeds are source of vitamin C, which is
a required nutrient for humans. Vitamin C has strong reducing
properties due to its enediol structure, which is conjugated with
the carbonyl group in a lactone ring 23. Vitamin C is required for
collagen formation, prevention of scurvy, degenerative conditions,
including cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and stimulation of the
immune system 23.
This vegetable is also rich in carotenoids. In the human body
carotenoids keep such chemical reactivity as in plants by catching
free radicals and active atomic oxygen. This is particularly important
for heavily working peoples, record-seeking sportsmen and people
being in the situation of the prolonged stress. The diet rich in
carotenoids diminishes coronary disease, tumours of the lungs,
urinary diseases and skin problems 10, 12, 13.
Mineral components delivered along with the food realize
important matter in the behavior of the human body acid-alkaline
equilibrium. Zinc and selenium have been found to have
nutraceutical potential. Their nutraceutical potential is usually
discussed in relation to antioxidation 23. The objective of the two
years study was to investigate the content of the antioxidants in
oil pumpkin fruits and seeds of different cultivars.
Materials and Methods
The study material consisted of oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.
var. styriaca) fruits of three different cultivars: ‘Golosemiannaja’,
‘Herakles’ and ‘Miranda’. The research work was carried out in
2010–2011 at the Experimental Station of the Aleksandras
Stulginskis University in Kaunas. The field was not fertilized.
Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment, Vol.11 (1), January 2013 157
Vitamin E amounts in pumpkin seeds were determined using
high- performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) 17. Vitamin C in
flesh and seeds of pumpkins was quantified by titration method
of 2,6-dichlorophenol-indophenol. Total carotenoids content in
flesh was measured using UV-VIS spectrophotometer. Analyses
of β-carotene and lutein contents in seeds were performed with
Shimadzu HPLC 10A system 9, 12. Zinc and selenium quantities in
seeds of oil pumpkins were determined using a mass spectrometer
(Thermo Finnigan MAT, Bremen, Germany).
Statistical analysis was performed using one-way ANOVA
(STATISTICA software). Statistical significance was considered
at p<0.05. Data presented in figures and tables are mean values of
the two years of study. Vertical bars in figures indicate standard
Results and Discussion
The chemical composition of oil pumpkins flesh and seeds depends
on the soil, climate conditions and genetic characteristics 3, 15, 18.
The results showed that the content of vitamin E in seeds of oil
pumpkin cultivars ranged from 296.75 to 402.93 µg g-1 (Fig. 1).
‘Herakles’ seeds accumulated the lowest amount of vitamin E
(296.75 µg g-1) and ‘Miranda’ seeds the highest amount of vitamin
E (402.93 µg g-1).
According to Pandey et al. 20, the content of vitamin C in fresh
pumpkin flesh ranged from 1.53 to 6.74 mg g-1. Our results are in
agreement with these results. The fruits of all tested oil pumpkin
cultivars accumulated in flesh similarly contents of vitamin C,
3.06–3.87 mg g-1 (Fig. 2). The amount of this vitamin in pumpkin
seeds, 7.04–8.43 mg g-1, was significantly higher than in flesh.
In the human body carotenoids accomplish functions of
antioxidants, and some are converted to vitamin A. According to
literature data, total carotenoid content in flesh of oil pumpkins
fruits is 0.03–0.17 mg g-1 10. Our results showed that the
significantly highest amount of total carotenoids was in ‘Miranda’
(1.74 mg g-1) and significantly smallest in ‘Herakles’ (0.01 mg g-1)
pumpkin flesh (Table 1).
Some studies have indicated that in seeds of oil pumpkins lutein
composed 71% and β-carotene only 12% of all carotenoid
content6. The amount of lutein in tested pumpkins seeds ranged
from 25.26 to 162.70 µg g-1 (Table 2).
The highest amount of lutein was in oil pumpkin seeds of
‘Golosemiannaja’ (162,70 µg g-1). The contents of β-carotene in
tested seeds was similar 4.16–5.15 µg g-1.
According to the literature, pumpkin seeds accumulated zinc
15–100 mg kg-1 20 and of selenium 0.023–0.037 mg kg-1 15. Zinc has
antiviral and anticancer effect, increases the body’s resistance
and activates about 80 enzymes. Selenium is also an important
antioxidant, that protects cell membranes and the formation of
free radicals, resulting in reduced risk of cancer, heart and vascular
diseases. The richest in zinc was ‘Golosemiannaja’ (65.45 mg kg-1
d.m.) and in selenium ‘Miranda’ (0.09 mg kg-1 d.m.) seeds (Table 3).
The biggest quantities of antioxidants lutein and zinc have been
found in cv. ‘Golosemiannaja’ seeds. The flesh and seeds of cv.
‘Miranda’ are valuable due high total carotenoid content and
vitamin E. The seeds of all tested oil pumpkin cultivars accumulated
significantly higher amount of vitamin C compared to flesh.
This research was supported by the project “Eureka” E 6855-Eco
raw„Higher functionality food products from organic vegetable
Cultivars Total carotenoids mg g¯¹
'Golosemiannaja' 0.82 ± 0.1527b
'Herakles' 0.01 ± 0.0001c
'Miranda' 1.74 ± 0.1533a
Table 1. Total carotenoids contents in
oil pumpkin cvs. (mg g-1).
The same letters show no significant differences between means
(p<0.05), ± STDEV = Standard deviation.
'Golosemiannaja' 162.70 ± 2.69a 5.15 ± 0.87a
'Herakles' 64.06 ± 4.89b 4.91 ± 0.59a
'Miranda' 25.26 ± 0.86c 4.16 ± 0.17a
Table 2. Lutein and β-carotene contents in
oil pumpkin cvs. seeds (µg g-1).
The same letters in the same column show no significant differences
between means (p<0.05), ± STDEV = Standard deviation.
Cultivars Zn Se
'Golosemiannaja' 65.45 ± 2.70a 0.04 ± 0.01b
'Herakles' 64.42 ± 0.91b 0.01 ± 0.00c
'Miranda' 54.81 ± 3.27c 0.09 ± 0.01a
Table 3. Zinc and selenium contents in oil
pumpkin cvs. seeds (mg kg-1 d.m.).
The same letters in the same column show no significant differences
between means (p<0.05), ± STDEV = Standard deviation.
Vitamin C mg g-1
Figure 2. The amount of vitamin C in oil pumpkin flesh and seeds (mg g-1).
The same letters show no significant differences between means (p<0.05).
Figure 1. The amount of vitamin E in oil pumpkin seeds (µg g-1).
The same letters show no significant differences between means (p<0.05)
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