As we all know, pumpkins become very popular in the month of October as we see pumpkin flavored everything hit store shelves and coffee shop menus, and the weather begins to undoubtedly feel like fall.
But what are the benefits of pumpkin? Pumpkin has a variety of benefits as it is a nutritious, yet versatile fruit (yes, fruit). However, while pumpkin does fall into the fruit category it is lower in carbohydrates and calories, and higher in fiber than many other fruits giving it vegetable-like characteristics. Pumpkin is a wonderful source of Vitamin A, contributing to the best vision you can have given your individual genes, and potassium which is essential for muscle contraction (particularly the heart) and blood pressure control.
Pumpkin is typically thought of as something that goes in sweet dishes, but it has under used potential for savory foods too! Pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), has a very subtle yet somewhat bland flavor that will take on the flavor of what it is paired with. This quality makes it simple to incorporate into every day meals. Adding canned or fresh pumpkin to pasta sauce or chili can be an easy way to incorporate better nutrition into your picky child, grand-child, or your own diet! You can also toast the seeds with different herbs and seasonings after your jack-o-lanterns for a fiber-rich snack high in unsaturated fats.
By: Mollie Johnson MS, RD – NourishKC, Registered Dietitian