The health benefits of pumpkins:
Pumpkins are 90% water and low in calories. One cup of canned pumpkin contains about 80 calories and is a low fat food.
Pumpkin is high in carotinoids such as beta carotene. In addition to supplying that distinct pumpkin orange color, Beta carotene is a “provitamin.” The provitamin can be converted in the body to retinol, more commonly known as vitamin A. Vitamin A helps to regulate immune function, cellular differentiation and proliferation, and to improve skin appearance.
This gourd vegetable is also a source of tryptophan- an amino acid that helps with the conversion of serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that helps with mood regulation and feelings of happiness. Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 found in pumpkin are both needed for this conversion of tryptophan to serotonin to take place.
Lastly, pumpkin is a good source of fiber. Fiber is found in only plant foods and increases fullness, and lowers heart disease and cancer risk. For every 1000 calories eaten, it is optimal to have at least 14 grams of fiber. Pumpkin provides about 37 grams per 1000 calories.
Ways to incorporate more pumpkin in your diet:
1. Mix pumpkin puree into hummus
2. Throw pumpkin seeds into low fat yogurt or granola
3. Make a pumpkin pie smoothie
4. Mix together a pumpkin soup
Ava is a Registered Dietitian with a BS in Nutritional Science from Penn State University. She completed her postgraduate dietetic internship at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center where she had a critical care concentration. She started her RD career working at a level one trauma center providing Medical Nutrition Therapy to patients in the Greater New York City area. She now resides in South Florida as her hospital's full time outpatient dietitian, overseeing outpatient nutrition for cardiometabolic, bariatric, and hospital medical nutrition therapy.