Locations:
Search IconSearch

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin

This superfood isn’t just for seasonal lattes and holiday pies

Roasted pumpkins are split in half on a baking tray fresh out of the oven.

It’s commonly thought of as a vegetable, but pumpkin is actually a fruit, and it’s a fall favorite that’s packed with health benefits.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

In fact, says dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, pumpkin is such a nutritional knockout that it shouldn’t be relegated to just the autumn months.

She explains some of the health benefits of pumpkin and how you can move it off the list of fall-only fare to incorporate it into your everyday diet.

Is pumpkin good for you?

Move over, Charlie Brown, it’s time to give new meaning to the term “The Great Pumpkin”! This stunning squash is considered a superfood, a title typically reserved for natural foods that are especially nutrient-dense while generally being low in calories. In other words, yes: Pumpkin is very good for you.

The health benefits of pumpkin

Though pumpkin is often found in sugary treats and desserts, it’s actually not super sweet on its own, which makes it a perfect savory ingredient. Before you get your gourd on, here are some of the known health benefits of consuming pumpkin.

1. Great for your eyes

“Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, which is really great for your vision and strengthening your immune system,” Zumpano says. Just a single serving (about one cup) of pumpkin can provide over 200% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A.

It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, compounds that protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

2. Healthy for your heart

“Pumpkin is high in potassium, which is a key ingredient for heart health,” Zumpano says. A cup of pumpkin contains 16% of your daily recommended amount of potassium. And it also has heart-healthy vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants, which can help prevent heart disease.

Advertisement

3. Boosts your immune system

A serving of pumpkin provides 19% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, an immune booster that helps reduce cell damage from free radicals (unstable molecules that can bind to your cells). Pumpkin also packs a punch when it comes to other immunity-strengthening antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin E and iron.

4. Contains cancer-fighting carotenoids

Caro-what now?! “Carotenoids are plant pigments produced by yellow, orange and red plants like pumpkins, carrots, squash and tomatoes,” Zumpano explains. Carotenoids combat the effects of free radicals in your body, which may help protect against certain types of cancer.

5. Keeps you full

If you’re watching your weight, pumpkin is a good choice. “It contains just 50 calories per cup, and it’s filling, too,” Zumpano notes. That same portion also provides three grams of fiber, which can keep you feeling fuller longer.

6. Super-healthy seeds

Don’t toss those pumpkin seeds! Once you separate them from the rest of the gourd’s gloopy innards, you can clean, spice and roast them for a nutritious nosh. The health benefits of pumpkin seeds include a reduced risk of cancer, improved bowel and prostate health, and a lower risk of heart disease.

“They make for a tasty, protein-packed snack that travels well,” Zumpano says. Add them to a salad, oatmeal, homemade granola or over yogurt for a little bit of crunch.

How to include pumpkin in your diet

If you’ve typically thought of pumpkin as a seasonal splurge, it’s time to rethink. Why reserve pumpkin for just Thanksgiving pie and seasonal lattes when there are so many delicious — and healthy — ways to consume it all year long?

Zumpano shares some of her favorite recommendations for working pumpkin into your regular repertoire.

  1. Roast pumpkin in the oven for a side dish.
  2. Stir pureed or canned pumpkin into soups or sauces (even tomato sauce) to thicken them.
  3. Substitute pumpkin for fat or oil in breads, muffins and pancakes.
  4. Add pumpkin to plain or vanilla yogurt with some pumpkin spice and just a smidge of honey.
  5. Mix pumpkin into a smoothie or turn it into a healthy pudding.

Pumpkin spice lattes may be the subject of myriad memes, but there’s actually a latte to love about this fall fruit all year round. Though fresh pumpkins aren’t in season until autumn, canned pumpkin makes it easy — not to mention delicious and healthy — to enjoy throughout the year.

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person looking in fridge, filled with salad, milk, berries, veggies, juice
June 12, 2024/Wellness
Power Up: 10 Ways To Boost Your Energy Naturally

Making certain food and lifestyle choices can help keep your battery full

Big open jar of pickles
May 22, 2024/Nutrition
Are Pickles Good for You?

Pickles are low in fat and calories and rich in some vitamins and minerals, but they’re usually high in sodium

Shirataki Miracle noodles on chopsticks and in red bowl
May 20, 2024/Nutrition
4 Reasons To Give Shirataki (Miracle) Noodles a Try

Fiber-rich shirataki noodles may improve blood sugar, aid in digestion and help with weight loss

Assorted healthy foods spread out over a table and cutting boards
May 20, 2024/Digestive
What To Eat When You Have Diverticular Disease

Reducing inflammation is key when you’re in a flare-up, but so is having a preventive nutritional plan in place when you’re not

Healthcare provider talking with patient with overweight in office
May 17, 2024/Weight Loss
The HCG Diet Is Ineffective and Unsafe

The U.S. FDA prohibits HCG use without a prescription — and the hormone isn’t approved for weight loss at all

Glass of celery juice with stalk garnish
May 16, 2024/Weight Loss
Celery Juice Is a Trendy Detox Drink, but Does It Actually Have Benefits?

While it isn’t bad for you, celery juice isn’t the detox phenom it’s claimed to be

Bowl of white konjac noodles in wooden bowl
May 15, 2024/Nutrition
5 Ways Konjac Can Help Boost Your Health

The glucomannan fiber in konjac can be good for your digestion, heart, weight loss and more

Field of barley
May 13, 2024/Nutrition
Bank on Barley for a Health Boost

Eating this grain could help keep tabs on your appetite and protect against diabetes and cancer

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad