Eat the Pumpkin for a Healthy Halloween

October 28, 2014
It’s a bit ironic that a vegetable is the em­blem for a night when kids (and plenty of adults) indulge in high-fat and high-sugar snacks. Before you relegate your pumpkin ­to the role of a mere jack-o’-lantern, however, think about purchasing a pumpkin for its health benefits.

Pumpkin is considered a nutrient-dense ­food, meaning it contains lots of vitamins and minerals even though it’s not a high-calorie food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup of cooked pumpkin contains just 49 calories ­with only a fraction of fat and no cholesterol. A cup of cooked pumpkin contains 12 grams of carbohydrate, 5.1 grams of sugar and 2.7 grams of fiber.

The best reason to consume pumpkin is for its nutrients. Pumpkin is rich in vitamins A, C and E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese. Of course, the nutrient beta-carotene gives pumpkin its vibrant orange color. Beta-carotene is 
a powerful antioxidant and, like vitamin C, contributes to immune system health.

Canned pumpkin puree can have added sugar. But you can make your own puree and use it in a variety of recipes or as a substitute for oil or butter. For taste, smaller pie pumpkins or sweet pumpkins are better than large jack-o’-lantern pumpkins.

PUREED PUMPKIN 

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulp.
  • Bake flesh-side up on a baking sheet for one hour or until tender.
  • While still warm, scrape pumpkin meat from shell halves.
  • Puree in a blender or food processor.