Poor pumpkin. Every Halloween the squash goes through the wringer. People leave pumpkins out in the cold on stoops and porches in the name of decoration.
As if that fate weren’t unkind enough, the pumpkins are later smashed by masked bands of pre-teen rapscallions. Or, and perhaps worse yet for the pumpkin, its taken inside and put through a lobotomy.
It’s time that we all start treating pumpkins with a little more reverence. Like other types of squash, pumpkins are excellent sources of a variety of nutrients. (But you don’t see people going around and smashing zucchinis, do you?)
So let’s learn about the nutritional superpowers of pumpkin, along with how to eat it best.
Why Is Pumpkin a Superfood?
Well, first, let’s not bandy about that word, “superfood.” When we’re talking about fruits and vegetables (including squash), they’re all pretty super.
But pumpkin, specifically, is rich in vision-protecting vitamin A, cell-assisting vitamin C, disease-fighting vitamin E, and potassium, a nutrient that can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
From a macro perspective, 1 cup of cubed pumpkin contains 1 gram of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates (1 gram of which is fibre), and trace amounts of fat—all for 30 calories.
The short of it: Pumpkin is a nutrient-rich, low-calorie food that makes for a easy side dish.
Is Canned Pumpkin Just as Healthy as Fresh Pumpkin?
Careful here. Canned pumpkin, or worse yet, canned “pumpkin pie mix” can often have a good dose of added sugar. While fresh pumpkin does contain natural sugars, canned pumpkin packs way more of the sweet stuff—about 8 grams per cup.
Don’t even ask about pumpkin spice lattes.
Is Pumpkin Good for Your Stomach?
Pumpkin seeds are great for your stomach. Just one ounce of the seeds have 5 grams of fibre for 126 calories. Fibre helps you fill up and stay full, so, yes, snack away.
You can even make your own pumpkin seeds at home. It’s easy.
Preheat your oven to 375°F and season your seeds. Always toss the seeds with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and then build out your flavours from there. The salt and pepper provide a good flavour foundation and the olive oil prevents the seeds from burning in the oven. Place the seasoned seeds on a baking sheet and roast until they’re golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the seeds from the oven, allow them to cool slightly, and then snack away, preferably with some pumpkin beer.
By Paul Kita