Pumpkin Wellness Blog Post

We all know that fall is the season for pumpkins and every food or drink has a pumpkin theme. But did you know of all of the health benefits that comes with the delicious taste of pumpkins. Pumpkins are used in a verity of dishes and when you discover all of the powerful benefits of pumpkins, you will feel a little better next time you spurge on that Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Willie’s.

Five Nutrition Benefits of Pumpkins

1 – Pumpkins help to build the immune system and fight infections

Pumpkins are made up of important nutrients such as Vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, Vitamin C, Fiber, Zinc, and B Vitamins. All of these vitamins teamed together help build up your immune system. The orange color come from carotenoids, a plant pigment. Carotenoids help with converting Vitamin A to the active form so the body can better fight infections.

2 – Pumpkins help to detoxify the liver

These carotenoids also help cleanse and detoxify the liver building and improving the tissue for better health of the liver.

3 – Pumpkins help reduce bad cholesterol

Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They also contain phytosterols, a nutrient that studies have shown to reduce our bad cholesterol levels known as the LDL cholesterol by prohibiting the absorption in our intestinal system.

4 – Pumpkins are full of potassium

One cup of cooked pumpkin has more potassium than 1 banana. Great refueling for athletes.

5 – Pumpkins support weight loss

With all the fiber that pumpkins are packed with, they help you feel fuller throughout the day and more satisfied for longer periods of time. Fiber also helps slow down the rate of sugar absorption into the blood supporting digestion health.

Consuming Pumpkin

Canned pumpkins are more convenient to purchase and use than fresh pumpkin but fresh pumpkin has a more authentic rich flavor. When buying canned pumpkin make sure nutrition labels read “100% pumpkin”. If the can doesn’t read “100% pumpkin” this means that the canned pumpkin doesn’t contain real pumpkin. A lot of times it contains squash. Canned pumpkin and 100% pumpkin baby food work the exact same way as fresh pumpkin without the process of cleaning, cutting, and cooking down pumpkin. Oftentimes sugar and pumpkin spices are added to give the desired pumpkin taste.

Selecting a pumpkin for eating is different than selecting a jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Here are some tips:

  • Choose the “pie pumpkin” or “sweet pumpkin” varieties. These pumpkins are grown to be smaller so they are less watery and the flesh is sweeter. Lending to be better for baking.
  • Choose a pumpkin that still has about 1-2 inches of a stem left. The stems help nutrients flow to and from the pumpkin if it is left too low the pumpkin can decay faster.
  • 1 # of raw, untrimmed pumpkin yields 1 cup of cooked pumpkin puree.

Tips on how to cook a pumpkin:

  • Oven: Cut pumpkin in half, scooping out the insides, rinsing it, then placing the cut side down on a large cookie sheet and baking at 350 F for one hour or until soft when poked with a utensil.
  • Boiling/Steaming:  Wash off the exterior of the pumpkin very well and then cut the pumpkin into large chunks. Place large chunks into a pot with a cup of water. The water will not need to cover the pumpkin pieces entirely. Cover the pot and boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender, or steam for 10 to 12 minutes. When the pieces are tender when poked by a fork drain the pumpkin in a colander.
  • Either method will provide soft pumpkin to be used in baking or casserole dishes. They are also very good to be sautéed or roasted.

Happy Pumpkin Season, Warhawks!

  • UW-W Dining Services