Is pumpkin good for you and what is it exactly?

Is pumpkin good for you and what is it exactly?

What is a pumpkin?

Pumpkin is an odd squash-like fruit. Pumpkins grow from a flower and comes from a fleshy plant that has seeds, because it is an un-sweeten produce, it is also called a vegetable. But more importantly, pumpkin falls into my favorite category of food. It is a comfort food. Even if you do not like pumpkin, you associate it with the biggest holiday gatherings in America.

Is pumpkin good for you?

Pumpkin also has an usual profile. It is not a suggested food for those that eat according to the glycemic indue (GI). For example, if it is boiled in salt water it has score of 75, which makes it very high on the GI index. Foods with a high GI score convert into sugar very quickly and are not efficient sources of fuel. But because pumpkin has a low carbohydrate value, less than 4 grams for almost a cup of pumpkin; it is still a high quality food. Not to confuse you, but the carb value is low, which off sets the GI value, which is high. This means that you can have a modest portion of pumpkin before it would really have any significant impact on your blood sugar level.

Setting aside the pumpkin GI value, pumpkin is full of alot of great beta-carotene, vitamin A and C. Additionally, pumpkin is another source of anti-oxidants. So you could swap out your berries for the day to change things up and have a little roasted pumpkin as a side with your dinner. The trouble with pumpkin as a side dish is that it often comes from cans. Canned pumpkins in general have a lot more carbohydrates. Bottom line is - it is a high value food mostly in its raw form. So how to do enjoy the comfort of pumpkin, without losing its full nutritional profile?

Ways to minimize the nutritional loss, while still enjoying the flavor of pumpkin.

1. Chop raw pumpkin and add to a soup. Flavor combines best with beans, leeks, garlic and even carrots (although I think it is too sweet). But I am a fan of roasted chicken in there too.
2. Boil the pumpkin and make it into a mash. The flavor is of course wonderful if you mix a little sweet yam or a few small white potatoes. Use olive oil instead of butter and use a little Himalayan sea salt to boost the flavor.
3. Add a little heat- Sauté up some onions until caramelized, add curry, and whatever herbs you like. Throw in boiled small chopped raw pumpkin. Add to the pan with a little chicken stock. Not too much. I like it all gooey. I think adding a turkey sausage sliced gives me extra flavor and the protein pop I want in all my meals, without a ton of calories.

Other recipes using raw pumpkin.

  1. Baked Fresh Pumpkin
  2. 8 Pumpkin Recipes
  3. Pumpkin Mango Salsa 

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts (taken from http://urbanext.illinois.edu)
(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)

  • Calories 49
  • Protein 2 grams
  • Carbohydrate 12 grams
  • Dietary Fiber 3 grams
  • Calcium 37 mg
  • Iron 1.4 mg
  • Magnesium 22 mg
  • Potassium 564 mg Zinc 1 mg
  • Selenium .50 mg
  • Vitamin C 12 mg
  • Niacin 1 mg
  • Folate 21 mcg
  • Vitamin A 2650 IU
  • Vitamin E 3 mg

Seasonal Pumpkin Coffee Drinks
Dunkin Donuts:

small pumpkin coffee 100 calories (nothing in it)

small pumpkin mocha 110 calories

small pumpkin white chocolate coffee 110 calories

Starbucks:

Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte 380 calories

Caribou Coffee

Small Wild Pumpkin (White Chocolate Mocha infused with pumpkin) 390 calories

Panera Bread

Large Pumpkin Spiced Latte 340 calories

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