Pumpkin is one of the underutilized fruit-vegetables in Uganda although it is one of the crops believed to have carotenoids with pro-vitamin A activity that are not common to many other crops. While other crops are being bred or fortified to increase their nutritional benefits of β-carotene and other micro nutrients required for healthy growth and care for immunosuppressed people, the value of pumpkins in this regard remains under researched. This study sought to determine the nutritional physico-chemical parameters of selected pumpkin cultivars grown in Uganda. The seeds of 14 cultivars of pumpkin from four agro-ecological zones of Uganda were grown under similar conditions. Their mature pulp was then analyzed for their proximate, mineral and carotenoid composition including glucose, starch, crude fibre, crude fat, ash, crude protein, moisture, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, lutein, α-carotene, trans-β-carotene, cis-β-carotene, total carotenoid and total pro-vitamin A carotenoid content using standard procedures. The proximate, calcium, potassium and the carotenoid content varied significantly across all the accessions (PË‚0.05) while the iron and zinc content did not vary significantly across all the accessions (PËƒ0.05) respectively. The results from the study show that pumpkin pulp is a good source of dietary fibre, protein, calcium, potassium, iron and carotenoids with pro-vitamin A activity. Therefore, pumpkin can be utilized in the food processing industry as a food supplement and for several other value addition avenues such as wine and flour production.
Key words: Accession, carotenoid, cultivar, proximate, pumpkin, value addition.
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