The Great Pumpkin! Health Benefits of the Fall Decoration

Annie House, RD, CDEby Annie House, RD, CDE, Botsford Diabetes & Nutrition Services



It’s October and it seems that everywhere welook there’s a pumpkin on display or at a neighbor’s doorstep…maybe our own doorstep! This year why not consider taking some pumpkin inside as well. Pumpkin is actually a very nutritious food to include in your diet!

*Keep in mind carving pumpkins are best for outdoors or decoration – buy smaller pie or baking pumpkins for recipes.

Pumpkin with its rich orange color is a good source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. A diet that is high in antioxidants may help decrease the risk of certain types of cancer.

Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber with 3g/cup cooked and is rich in potassium.

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the minerals magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, and of protein as well.

Pumpkin seeds are also a source of phytosterols. Phytosterols have been shown to help lower cholesterol. They are used in certain margarine spreads and are touted as being heart healthy.

How to roast pumpkin seeds:

Cook in a single layer in oven for 15-20 minutes at 160-170 degrees F. The short time and low temperature will help preserve the healthy oils.

Below are a few fun facts about pumpkins and a here’s a healthy pumpkin recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Soup.  For more healthy autumn foods visit our Diabetes and Nutrition Services webpage.

  • Around 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois.
  • Pumpkins are used for feed for animals.
  • Pumpkins are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits.
  • Pumpkins originated in Central America.
  • In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
  • Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites.
  • Pumpkin flowers are edible.
  • Pumpkins are fruit.
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