It’s No Trick: Pumpkin Is a Healthy Treat


Enjoy the health benefits of pumpkins just like our forefathers before us. Native American Indians used pumpkin as a healthy staple in their diets for centuries before the pilgrims landed. Pumpkins continued to be an important crop for the pilgrims because they stored well and provided a nutritious food source during the winter months.

Today, pumpkin flavoring is in everything from candy and coffee to ice cream and doughnuts. Don’t be fooled by this; pumpkins and their seeds are nutrient-dense foods that score high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).

Pumpkins Contain Carotenoids Important for Immune Function

Pumpkins and related squashes are good sources of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants belonging to a group of pigments called carotenoids.

  • Carotenoids defend the body’s tissues against oxidative damage, helping to prevent chronic diseases and premature aging.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only known carotenoids located in the human retina. They help protect the eye from damage and improve several aspects of visual performance.


Pumpkin is a Versatile Food

Pumpkin makes a great pie but, don’t stop there. Pumpkin puree can be stirred into soups, stews or chilis. You can whip up a pumpkin smoothie by blending pumpkin puree with a banana, spinach or romaine lettuce, a few dates, some non-diary milk and cinnamon and nutmeg. I recommend cooking your own pumpkin puree or using the puree packed in non-BPA containing cartons.

Pumpkins and their seeds are nutrient-dense foods that score high on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index.

Easy Pumpkin Puree

Tip: Choose the lighter colored “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins,” they are sweeter and less watery than the orange jack-o’-lantern pumpkins.

  1. Cut the top from the pumpkin and scrape out the stringy membranes and seeds.
  2. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces and place in a roasting pan.
  3. Pour ½ cup water into the bottom of the pan and cover with foil.
  4. Bake 45-60 minutes or until pumpkin is soft and easily pierced with a fork.
  5. Scrape the soft pulp from the skin into a food processor or blender and puree.
  6. Leftover pumpkin puree may be frozen in an airtight container for up to 12 months.
(Diana Taliun/Shutterstock)

(Diana Taliun/Shutterstock)

Pumpkin Seeds are Super Foods

When preparing pumpkin puree or carving a jack-o’-lantern, don’t throw away the seeds. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are not only flavorful, they are a super food. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Phytochemicals
  • Zinc, calcium and iron
Related:  Pumpkin and Apple Blast

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