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Surprising Benefits of Pumpkin
By Ethan Boldt
August 16, 2023
Pumpkin is too often relegated to just a Fall dessert, such as pumpkin pie, or a snack like pumpkin bread. But you’d be surprised to see how much nutrition a pumpkin contains and how many benefits it can provide you.
It's one of the greatest sources of vitamin A, rich in other antioxidants and also high in fiber. Pumpkin benefits include the ability to help support skin and eye health, plus help keep blood pressure levels healthy.
Though we typically think of pumpkins as vegetables (since they are a type of squash), they are technically fruits. That's because fruits are edible products of seed-bearing, flowering plants.
A type of winter squash that usually comes from the Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita maxima plants, it's related to veggies and fruits like watermelon, zucchini and cucumber.
Not only can you eat the "flesh" of pumpkin (the smooth, orange filling), but you can also enjoy the seeds and even the leaves and juices from the plant. These are all full of nutrients, including healthy fatty acids.
Pumpkin nutrition is outstanding, as it’s high in fiber, low in calories, basically fat-free, and full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese and more.
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are also full of healthy properties.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup (approximately 245 grams) of boiled, unsweetened, mashed pumpkin contains about:
12 g carbohydrates
1.8 g protein
0.2 g fat
2.7 g fiber
12,231 IU vitamin A (245% DV)
11.5 mg vitamin C (19% DV)
564 mg potassium (16% DV)
0.2 mg copper (11% DV)
0.2 mg manganese (11% DV)
0.2 mg riboflavin (11% DV)
2 mg vitamin E (10% DV)
1.4 mg iron (8% DV)
73.5 mg phosphorus (7% DV)
22 mcg folate (6% DV)
22 mg magnesium (6% DV)
*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.
Pumpkin contains several phyto-constituents belonging to the categories of alkaloids, flavonoids, and palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids. Studies indicate that pumpkin can support healthy inflammation levels and deliver important antioxidants.
Beta-carotene is one type of carotenoid antioxidant that is responsible for pumpkins' signature orange color. Studies show that eating vitamin A/beta-carotene foods helps support eye, heart and brain health. This is due to vitamin A helping to fight both oxidative stress and free radicals , which can promote healthy cells and neurons.
A one-cup serving of cooked pumpkin provides about 16 percent of your daily potassium needs. Potassium is an electrolyte that many adults lack in their diets, considering it's primarily found in veggies and fruits such as bananas, potatoes, squash, pumpkins and avocados.
Consuming enough potassium offers benefits such as supporting heart health, healthy blood pressure and even can balance out sodium in your diet.
Studies continue to show that eating plant foods high in antioxidants and fiber like pumpkin can benefit the entire body, especially the gut. Fiber helps by promoting healthy elimination and relieving occasional constipation. It also works with healthy probiotic bacteria in the gut and helps them thrive.
Another benefit of eating more fiber is that it helps make you feel full, which can allow you to control your calorie intake and manage your healthy weight.
You can find both fresh/whole pumpkins and canned pumpkin puree in both grocery stores and farmers markets. While canned type is easier to use, freshly carved and cooked pumpkin may taste a bit better and pack in even more antioxidants.
If you do choose to buy and cook whole pumpkins, look for those that feel heavy for their size, are firm, smooth and have no noticeable rotting spots.
Pumpkin is used in a variety of cuisines and pairs well with spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cayenne, vanilla and black pepper. It becomes very popular in the U.S. in the Fall each year, used in desserts, breads/muffins, soups, butters, salads and more.
Here are some recipes that use pumpkin:
Speaking of the Fall, that’s also when Ancient Nutrition offers Bone Broth Protein Pumpkin Spice. It has a delicious flavor and is lightly sweetened with cinnamon and stevia extract rather than regular sugar, keeping the carb content and calories low. It’s gluten-free and made without dairy or soy and made from grass-fed and pasture-raised beef bone broth, which naturally contains collagen types I and III.
Want to add protein to your diet with that pumpkin flavor? Here are some recipes that use Bone Broth Protein Pumpkin Spice: