We’re past seeing pumpkins carved for Halloween and many of us may be looking forward to eating Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, but pumpkins are good for you the entire fall season—and all year round. For starters, pumpkins are part of the Cucurbitaceae family of veggies and fruits such as squash, cantaloupes and cucumbers. Pumpkins are one of the most popular field crops cultivated worldwide and are known for their healthy fruit and seeds.
Pumpkins are often orange colored, and a key to their nutritional punch lies in their orange color via beta-carotene, a provitamin that is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta-carotene supports immunity, eye health and heart health, as well as skin integrity and other areas.† Not all pumpkins are orange in color, however. You can also find them in pale-to-dark greens, yellows, grays, browns, white or even reddish hues.
Pumpkin is also a great source of polyphenol antioxidants such as lutein and xanthin as well as vitamin K, a vitamin that helps support overall health in the body.† Likewise, pumpkins are rich in vitamins C and B vitamins, including folate, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamine and pantothenic acid. And don’t forget about the minerals in pumpkins—calcium, potassium, phosphorus and copper.
What’s more is pumpkin is low in calories, and per cup of canned pumpkin, offers seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein. Fresh or canned pumpkin is easily added to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods and more, so there's no reason to hold back on adding it to your recipes.
Then there are pumpkin seeds, true nutritional powerhouses in and of themselves. The seeds provide concentrated sources of protein, minerals and vitamins as well as good sources of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which support heart health and more.†
In fact, 100g of pumpkin seeds (about a cup) will give you ample protein and iron as well as niacin, selenium and zinc—but no cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds also are a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that support physical and mental health as well as relaxation and sleep.
Roasting your own pumpkin seeds is easy, too. After removing the seeds from the pumpkin, wipe them off with a paper towel. Then place them single-layer fashion on a cookie sheet and sprinkle your favorite healthy seasoning on them. Lightly roast them for approximately 15 to 20 minutes at 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Roasting them at this lower temp helps the seed to retain their healthy oils.
There are many health perks to pumpkins and their seeds, so be sure to enjoy them regularly.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.