31 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Discover the health benefits of pumpkin, how to cook and prepare pumpkin and how pumpkins grow.

Our vegetable of the week is Pumpkin.

With Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about the AMAZING health benefits of pumpkin! 

Pumpkin has more vitamin A than kale, more fiber than quinoa and more potassium than a banana! 

There’s so many more reasons to love pumpkin other than a carved jack o’ lantern or a scented candle.

Let’s Chat about 31 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin!

  1. Pumpkin is low in calories!  With around 50 calories per cup, pumpkin is a great weight loss friendly food!  These are nutrient dense calories too!  You can fill your plate and still lose weight with pumpkin!
  2. Pumpkin is rich in fiber!  It has about 7 grams per cup.  This helps us feel fuller longer and can help with many digestive issues. Read more on why fiber is so vital to our health by clicking here!
  3. Pumpkin can help reduce our risk of colon cancer.
  4. You can stabilize your blood sugar when you eat pumpkin.
  5. Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene.  This is a powerful antioxidant that gives veggies and fruit their vibrant color.  Beta carotene lowers our risk of developing certain cancers.
  6. Pumpkin is heart healthy!  The potassium in pumpkin helps to stabilize blood pressure and also reduces our risk of stroke.
  7. Pumpkin can help lower our cholesterol.
  8. The antioxidants in pumpkin help prevent bad cholesterol from clinging to the walls of our blood vessels. Consuming foods rich in antioxidants is so vital for disease prevention! Read how here.
  9. Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients like vitamin A and C that boost our immune system!
  10. The vitamin C in pumpkin helps wounds heal faster.
  11. The carotenoids in pumpkin help reduce many types of cancer.  Namely stomach, throat, breast, and pancreatic. 
  12. Pumpkin helps our body to make more collagen.  This is a protein that keeps our skin healthy.
  13. The beta carotene in pumpkin can act as a natural sun block and not allow skin cells to be damaged from harmful UV rays.
  14. The lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin E in pumpkin also helps boost our skin defenses against UV rays.
  15. The beta carotene in pumpkin suppresses tumors from forming in the prostate.
  16. Beta carotene has also been shown to slow the development of colon cancer.
  17. Pumpkin has been shown to actually lower blood sugar levels and reduce our chances of type 2 diabetes.
  18. Pumpkin can reduce age related macular degeneration.  (the leading cause of blindness as we age.)
  19. Vitamin A in pumpkin helps protect against asthma. Read more on the AMAZING health benefits of vitamin A by clicking here.
  20. The tryptophan in pumpkin can help you sleep better!
  21. The lutein and zeaxanthin in pumpkin helps prevent cataracts.
  22. The oil in pumpkin is antifungal and antibacterial.
  23. The beta carotene in pumpkin also helps fight against lung cancer.
  24. The zinc in pumpkin helps prevent prostate cancer.
  25. You can eat the seeds for added health benefits!
  26. Pumpkin seeds have magnesium which 80% of Americans are deficient in.  Just 1 oz seeds gives 30% the daily recommended amount.
  27. Pumpkin has more potassium than bananas!  This can help prevent leg cramps and muscle weakness.
  28. Pumpkin can give us a mood boost!  This is because our bodies convert the tryptophan into serotonin.
  29. Pumpkin seeds help with post workout recovery. 
  30. The vitamin C in pumpkin helps you recover from colds faster.
  31. Pumpkin helps support liver function.  Our liver does more than 500 vital functions in our body!  Functions like removing harmful things from our bloodstream and the liver helps to break down protein, fat and carbs.  It also stores essential vitamins and nutrients!
31 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin

WOW!  All those AMAZING health benefits from pumpkin!

How to choose the perfect pumpkin to maximize the health benefits.

Not all pumpkins are made for eating.  The larger ones we traditionally carve or decorate with, are not as sweet and good tasting as the smaller “pumpkin pie” varieties.

Pumpkin is readily available all year round as canned pumpkin puree, but pumpkins are harvested from August-November in North America. 

A cooking pumpkin should weigh 3-6 pounds.  Look for one that is bright orange in color and shows no sign of mold. 

How to store, cook and prepare pumpkin. 

Storing your pumpkin

The ideal temperature for storing pumpkin is 50-60*.  It will keep for up to 3-5 months when stored in cooler temps.  However, most of our homes are warmer than that.  You can store it on the countertop for 2-3 weeks but best consumed as soon as possible.

How to cook pumpkin:

There’s a couple of ways to cook pumpkin. 

Oven Roasted Pumpkin. Simply cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Be sure to save the seeds and oven roast them too for a delicious snack or salad topping.

If you struggle to get a knife through the hard pumpkin, simple place it in the microwave for about 4-6 minutes to soften it. 

After you have cut the pumpkin into chunks or slices and scooped out the pulp and seeds, lightly spray or drizzle each half with olive oil and place cut side down in the oven.  Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.  Then flip them over, cut side up and bake an additional 10-30 minutes until soft. 

Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so.  Then simply peel the skin off and you should be left with cooked pumpkin.  Puree in a food processor until smooth.

31 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin oven roasted

You can also cook pumpkin in the crockpot.  Cut the pumpkin in half and remove pulp and seeds.  Then cut into half again.  Pour about 1 cup of water in the bottom of the crockpot and add your pumpkin.  Cook on low for about 4-6 hours.  Remove and allow it to cool.  Peel off skin and puree cooked pumpkin.

Have an instant pot?  Pumpkin cooks in about 15 minutes on high pressure.  Place 1-2 cups of water in the bottom of your pot.  Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulp.  Cut into smaller chunks and place in your instant pot. Set to high pressure for 15 minutes.  Once done, vent and allow to cool.  Peel off skin and puree cooked pumpkin.

You can even microwave cook the pumpkin.  Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pulp.  Cut into smaller chunks.  Place cut chunks in a microwavable glass bowl and place about 1” of water in the bottom.  Cover with a microwave safe plastic wrap.  This helps steam the pumpkin chunks. 

Microwave on high for about 8 minutes.  Peel back some plastic wrap to allow steam to escape.  Rearrange chunks and recover with plastic wrap.  Cook again for about 7 minutes.  This depends on your microwave size.  May need more time or less.  Remove from microwave and allow to cool.  Peel off skin and puree. 

31 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin seeds

Don’t throw those seeds away!

How to soak, clean and roast pumpkin seeds!

Why do I need to soak pumpkin seeds?  By soaking raw nuts and seeds, you are activating the sprouting process. This breaks down much of the phytic acid, and allows the minerals, vitamins, fats, and proteins to be more readily absorbed!

Place seeds and pulp in a large bowl.  Fill with lukewarm salt water.  (about 1/2tsp-1 tsp salt per cup of water) Soak overnight or for about 8 hours. The seeds will float, the pulp will sink!  How easy is that!

Scoop out seeds from the water and allow them to dry on a clean towel. (1-3 hours)

Place seeds on a greased baking tray and roast at 300* for about 30 minutes.  Give them a stir and add seasoning if you’d like.  Roast for about another 15-30 minutes until crispy.

I could write a whole other blog post on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds!  And maybe someday I will.  Until then, just know there are many healthy reasons to make them your next snack or salad topping!

Now that we know how to cook pumpkin, let’s look at some creative ways to eat it.

We are all pretty familiar with using pumpkin in baked goods.  There’s recipes galore on Pinterest for pumpkin pies, pumpkin roll, muffins, cookies, cakes and breads.

Let’s explore some nontraditional ways to eat more pumpkin.

Have you ever had pumpkin soup?  Most recipes use canned pumpkin puree or oven roasted pumpkin mixed with chicken stock and half n half for a wonderful creamy soup.  The recipes often add cinnamon and nutmeg for a nice savory taste.

I have been wanting to try pumpkin macaroni and cheese!  YES!  It’s a thing!  Cooks rave about the creaminess that pumpkin gives to the mac and cheese!

Use oven roasted cubed pumpkin and make a fall harvest quinoa side dish or salad.  Simply add cooked quinoa, roasted pumpkin, brussels sprouts and some dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds for a pop of color!  Usually this is topped with a nice vinaigrette dressing.  Add some maple syrup for a sweet taste.  This can even be served over a bed of your favorite greens!  Garnish with some roasted pumpkin seed.

You could try your hand at a pumpkin risotto!  Or keep it simple and look up a creamy pumpkin rice recipe.

Toss some oven roasted pumpkin or sneak some pumpkin puree into your next chili!  The kids and hubby will never see the puree, but they’ll get all the wonderful health benefits!! 

Serve up a healthier breakfast by making some pumpkin pancakes or waffles!

Top your toast with some healthy pumpkin butter.

You can keep things simple and add some pumpkin puree to your oatmeal!

A quick Pinterest search brought up these other creative ideas:

Pumpkin Alfredo

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Cauliflower Gratin

White Bean Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Pasta Bake

Pumpkin Lasagna

Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Energy Balls

What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin?  Be sure to share your recipes let us know in the Veggie Obsessed Facebook group!

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/veggieobsessed

How to grow pumpkin

Now that you know the health benefits of pumpkin and some creative ways to cook and prepare it,  it’s time to dig into how to grow it!

Even if you don’t have a green thumb and have ZERO intention of growing your own pumpkin, I think it’s important that we know how our food grows and what it looks like as it grows.

You likely know what a pumpkin seed looks like. The seeds germinate in about 4-10 days and grow quite quickly.

Pumpkin Seedlings ready for the garden. It only takes about 2-3 weeks for them to be ready for transplant in the garden.  You can directly sow the seeds into your garden as well.  Just be sure to mark where you planted them.

Pumpkins take about 90-100 days from seed to harvest.  The vines get massive and it’s recommended you have 400 sq ft per plant.  Smaller pie pumpkins don’t get as big and require less garden space.  You can grow smaller pie pumpkins on a trellis for vertical gardening.  This is great if you are short on space. 

Now that you know more about the health benefits of pumpkin, will you be adding it to your menu?

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Hi, I'm Jodie!

Hey there my friend! My name is Jodie Crandall and I’m a veggie loving certified health and nutrition coach on a journey to spread the word about how amazing veggies are for our health!  I am a self-proclaimed “plant-based meat eater” who has recently lost almost 50 pounds by eating more veggies!

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