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Not Just a Scary Face

Pumpkins provide great nutrition

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Not Just a Scary Face

Pumpkin isn't only for Halloween. This winter squash packs a powerhouse of nutritional goodness and health benefits in its flesh and seeds, and it tastes great!

Pumpkin isn’t only for Halloween. This winter squash packs a powerhouse of nutritional goodness and healing properties in its flesh and seeds, and it tastes great!

Pumpkin has been crowned queen of the carotenoids because of its rich supply of beta carotene and alpha carotene. Loaded with fibre, vitamins, and minerals, you’ll get a mouthful of potassium, magnesium, selenium, and lutein in every bite, plus a good dose of vitamins A, C, and E.

Don’t forget the seeds. By weight, they contain more iron than liver does, are rich in omega-3, and are a good source of protein, making them great for vegan and vegetarian diets.

Aim for 4 oz (125 g) of pumpkin three times a week, plus a handful of seeds every day or two.

Health Benefits

Eating pumpkin helps keep your body healthy, due to the combination of antioxidants and nutrients in this winter squash. Rich in carotene, pumpkin protects against heart disease and many common cancers.

Pumpkin consumption is linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, and the natural anti-inflammatory properties of this food aid in fighting asthma and arthritis. Pumpkin also helps maintain fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, modulate the immune system, and prevent cataracts and arteriosclerosis. A digestive aid, pumpkin soothes the stomach and decreases bloating and flatulence.

Eating pumpkin seeds promotes prostate health and acts as a mild natural laxative and diuretic. The particular combination of antioxidants found in these seeds helps your body cope with stress.

Picking a Pumpkin

If you’re buying a pumpkin to cook rather than carve, get a small sugar pumpkin. Look for a deep orange colour and a smooth, dull rind, indicating a mature, sweet pumpkin. Store it in a cool (between 10 and 15 C) dry place away from direct sunlight. Once cut, cook pumpkin the same day to preserve its nutrients. Fresh pumpkin not in season? Buy canned–it still has tons of beneficial nutrients.

No matter how you eat your pumpkin, it does your body good–and there’s nothing scary about that.

How to Eat More Pumpkin

  • Serve cubed or mashed pumpkin with a little butter and nutmeg or maple syrup.
  • Pump up soups and stews by adding some cooked cubed pumpkin.
  • Use pur'ee pumpkin in smoothies, pudding, pie, or dips for a rich smooth taste.
  • Add it to muffins, cakes, and breads to enrich their fibre and nutrient content and produce moist, delicious baked goods.
  • Eat pumpkin seeds as a snack, toss them on salads, stir into hot or cold cereals, or add to baked goods for extra crunch.
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