APPLIED SCIENCES-BASEL, vol.9, no.16, 2019 (SCI-Expanded)
The Cucurbita genus, a member of Cucurbitaceae family, also known as cucurbits, is native to the Americas. Genus members, like Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima, have been used for centuries in folk medicine for treating gastrointestinal diseases and intestinal parasites. These pharmacological effects are mainly attributed to their phytochemical composition. Indeed, Cucurbita species are a natural source of carotenoids, tocopherols, phenols, terpenoids, saponins, sterols, fatty acids, functional carbohydrates, and polysaccharides, that beyond exerting remarkable biological effects, have also been increasingly exploited for biotechnological applications. In this article, we specifically cover the habitat, cultivation, phytochemical composition, and food preservative abilities of Cucurbita plants.