Not just for decoration: Enjoy the health benefits of eating pumpkin

  • 1 Minute Read

Did you know that the benefits of eating pumpkin go far beyond the satisfaction of creamy pumpkin pie? Packed with vitamins and minerals, 1/2 cup of pumpkin contains only 22 calories!! So add nutrition and weight loss to your tasty benefits of eating pumpkin. Whether you use fresh or canned, fall is the perfect season for cooking with pumpkin.

Benefits of eating pumpkin

What are the health benefits of eating pumpkin?

As its bright orange color would suggest, pumpkin provides a healthy dose of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Vitamin A is essential for vision, immunity, proper growth, healing, and antioxidant properties. One cup of pumpkin contains 257% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin A. Pumpkin also promotes healthy eyes with the phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin.

Pumpkin packs an impressive potassium punch: 505 mg in 1 cup of canned pumpkin. That's as much as a medium banana!

Pumpkin's nutritional benefits don't stop with the pulp. The seeds come packed with essential nutrients, including magnesium and potassium. Pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds and are equally nutritious.

How can eating pumpkin benefit weight loss?

A low-energy-dense food, pumpkin is low in calories relative to its weight due to its high water content. Research shows that choosing low energy density foods can help support weight loss by helping you feel fuller on fewer calories. Pumpkin's fiber content (7 grams per cup) can also help you feel full.

Choosing a Pumpkin

At our favorite pumpkin farm in Nebraska, all pumpkins in the field were the same price. Of course, being the thrifty person that I am, I picked the biggest one! Our family of four cooperated by carrying our prize pumpkin to the car together. We decided to bake the pumpkin and see how many cups of pulp it would yield. Read on to find out.

How to Bake a Pumpkin

The taste and texture of typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins make them less appealing for eating. For a sweeter flavor and firmer texture, choose a "pie pumpkin" or "sweet pumpkin." Fairly uniform in shape, these pumpkins are smaller than most jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

  1. Wash the outside of the pumpkin to remove dirt.
  2. Using a clean 2-inch nail and a hammer, pound about 6 holes in the pumpkin. The holes prevent the pumpkin from exploding in the oven.
  3. Place pumpkin on a foil-covered, edged baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 1 to 2 hours or until pumpkin is soft to the touch.
  4. Remove from oven. With a large knife, cut open the pumpkin. Let cool. Remove seeds with a spoon. Wash seeds in a sieve and save for roasting!
  5. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the shell, and put the pulp into freezer bags to freeze for future use.

Are you curious how much pulp I got from my pumpkin? I froze 30 cups of pumpkin, which fit into 15 freezer bags (2 cups per bag). What a bargain!

Try one of these recipes to get the most from your pumpkin

From MyNetDiary's Premium Recipe Collection:
These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are not-too-sweet treats that keep well in the freezer.

This Pumpkin Spice Latte is a tasty, warming treat under 5 grams of carb per serving.

Keep Energy Trail Mix (with Pumpkin Seeds) on hand for a quick afternoon snack.

If you are in the mood for something savory, try this Hearty Sante Fe Pumpkin Soup from Produce for Better Health.

Reviewed and revised by Sue Heikkinen MS, RDN, CDCES on October 13, 2020.

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Foods & Recipes->Fruit & Vegetables Holidays / Parties->Halloween Nutrients->Vitamin A & beta-carotene
Oct 21, 2020
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

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