14 Reasons to Get Pumped about Pumpkin

Once relegated to Thanksgiving pies, jack-o’-lanterns and Cinderella’s coach, pumpkins are beginning to get their just deserts. Pumpkin is cropping up in smoothies, baked goods, soups and pasta, to name a few. Even the seeds of this squash cousin are increasingly popular in salads, stews and to snack on. This is all very good news, since pumpkin and its seeds pack many nutritional benefits. Here are some highlights (and recipes):

  1. ½ cup of canned pumpkin is less than 40 calories but boasts 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.
  2. As long as you opt for the unsweetened version, organic canned pumpkin is a quick and easy way to boost baked good and smoothies with pumpkin.
  3. Pumpkin makes for great soups, like this Paleo Asian Lemongrass Pumpkin Soup.
  4. The fiber, potassium and vitamin C naturally occurring in pumpkin are all related to promoting heart health.
  5. Watch this quick and fun video for tips on roasting perfect pumpkin seeds.
  6. Like most orange veggies, pumpkin is high, really high, in beta-carotene, a naturally occurring pigment that functions as a powerful antioxidant.
  7. Baking pumpkin is super simple: slice in two, scoop out seeds, rub butter or oil and salt and pepper on each half, and roast face down on baking pan for 40 to 60 minutes at 350°F.
  8. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of antioxidant vitamin E, essential for many of the body’s basic functions.
  9. Pumpkin contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds that have been shown to support eye health.
  10. Kids love anything pumpkin, so take advantage of it and make them healthy pumpkin treats like these bars.
  11. Pumpkin seeds contain protective compounds called phytosterols, which may be helpful in promoting prostate health.
  12. Pumpkin goes great in smoothies. Try it with banana, nut milk, and pumpkin-pie spice. Or try this recipe.
  13. Pumpkin seeds are rich in many minerals, such as copperironmagnesium and zinc.
  14. Raw pumpkin can be easily stored in the freezer; simply peel and cube it and place in a freezer-safe container.

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