The Amazing Benefits of Eating Canned Pumpkin, Says Dietitian
During pumpkin spice season, it’s the spice element that tends to take top billing, getting mixed into our lattes and oatmeals the minute September rolls around up until Thanksgiving when pumpkin pie season gets its proper due. But while the flavor of pumpkin spice tends to be all the rage throughout those early fall months, the actual pumpkin, however, is the real nutritional hero of the pumpkin spice story. Pumpkin brings a cornucopia of nutrients to the literal table, and you don’t even need a visit to a pumpkin patch or to spend any time with your arms in pumpkin guts to benefit from pumpkin’s superpowers! Canned pumpkin works just as well (though not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling) and is a super convenient way to give your meals an autumnal and nutritional leg-up.
We spoke with says Min Krishnamurthy, MS, RD, and nutrition coach with 3STEPDIET, about how canned pumpkin is still a nutritious and affordable choice during the fall, and is the perfect base for numerous recipes.
“You can whip up a pumpkin vinaigrette, blend it into a fall-flavored smoothie, elevate mashed potatoes or cauliflower, or mix into your favorite store-brand pasta sauce,” she suggests.
Additionally, Melissa Boufounos, a certified holistic nutritionist specializing in sports medicine offers another great canned pumpkin hack: “Adding pumpkin purée to a hummus recipe is a great way to change up the flavor for fall and add in more nutrients.”
Here are some of the amazing benefits of eating canned pumpkin, according to both Krishnamurthy and Boufounos.
Canned pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.
“Pumpkin is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and can help to support a healthy immune system,” says Krishnamurthy.
It’s no wonder that pumpkin, with its natural orange hue, has similar vitamin prowess as other orange fruits and veggies such as oranges, peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Beta carotene, the substance that gives orange fruits and vegetables their color, converts to vitamin A in the body when needed, which has healing properties.
Vitamin C helps us to stave off the colds that can also come from the snap in the air, and vitamin K has heart-healthy benefits, more so than that which just makes us happy when we hear the words “pumpkin spice.”
It’s also full of potassium.
“Canned pumpkin is a good source of potassium,” says Boufounos, which plays a huge role in maintaining a proper fluid balance in the body, preventing blood clots, maintaining healthy blood pressure, and preserving bone health. “Most people, especially athletes, think of bananas when they hear they need to eat more potassium to replace what is lost in sweat. A banana does have more potassium than a pumpkin, but canned pumpkin provides potassium with more fiber and less natural sugar.”
Pumpkin is a fiber superstar.
Fiber is a real power player when it comes to balanced, nutritive eating, as it helps us maintain a healthy gut and feel full. “Fiber helps support a healthy digestive system, promotes a feeling of satiety, and helps stabilize blood sugars,“ says Krishnamurthy.
Canned pumpkin is one of nature’s best sources of fiber, second only to legumes, providing about 7 grams per cup, which is more than many fruits and vegetables can boast, and even more than some whole grains.
It’s full of antioxidants.
“Antioxidants help fight free radical cell damage,” says Krishnamurthy, by inhibiting oxidation in the body. “Alongside beta-carotene, pumpkin also contains two antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin, which can also help promote healthy vision and better-looking skin.”
So it’s really the pumpkin, not the spice, that has us clear-eyed and glowing this season.
Bonus: Pumpkin spice adds a boost of nutrients!
Don’t worry, it’s not all pumpkin and no spice. Pumpkin spice really gives canned pumpkin that flavor we love — and thankfully, it also comes with a range of nutritional benefits. Pumpkin spice consists of a blend of warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and according to Krishnamurthy, “these kinds of spices add an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory boost.”