Pumpkin Season

It’s pumpkin season again! Not only do pumpkins taste irresistible, but they’re also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Below is a list of nutrients that can be found in the famous, fall favorite.

Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene are both responsible for giving the pumpkin its distinctive bright orange color.  But what role do these vitamins play in your health? Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant to help protect the cells from disease and deterioration. It is especially useful for supporting healthy skin, improving night vision, as well as aiding in bone development, and supporting the immune system. Beta-carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A. When found in food, the body digests and converts it in the liver to vitamin A. This type of carotenoid is recognized by health professionals as one of the best vitamins for neutralizing free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells and DNA).

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency:

  • Dry hair
  • Vision problems
  • Frequent colds
  • Acne

Copper is a trace mineral (only needed to be consumed in small amounts) that is a key component for collagen development in the skin, metabolizing energy, and absorbing iron. When consumed with zinc, manganese and calcium, it may help to minimize bone loss.  A serving of pumpkin contains 25% of the recommended daily requirements of copper.

Symptoms of Copper deficiency:

  • Anemia
  • Osteoarthritis/osteoporosis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vision problems

Iron is another valuable trace mineral found in pumpkins. Oxygen is essential to the human body, which is why iron is so important. Most of the body’s iron can be found in two proteins – hemoglobin and myoglobin.  Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscle cells.  In both locations, iron plays a vital role in accepting, transporting and releasing oxygen. Just one cup of pure pumpkin puree (with no additives!) provides 19% of the recommended daily requirement of iron.

As a team of dietitians and nutritionists, we do not recommend pre-packaged pumpkin muffins, scones, pies or lattes to benefit from the vitamins and minerals mentioned above. Unfortunately, the majority of these products are high in saturated fat and sugar, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels and quite possibly weight gain. In addition, the pumpkin flavor and orange color found in these pre-packaged goods is more often than not food coloring and artificial flavors. So how do you benefit from the rich nutrient profile found in pumpkin?  Try to consume it as naturally as possible.  For example, healthy, homemade alternatives include oven-roasted pumpkin wedges, soups, stews, granola bars, and bread.



(1) 8 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin (2012). Retrieved September 20, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/pumpkin-health-benefits_n_1936919.html

(2) Gomes Ribeiro, E, M., Chitchumroonchokchai, C., Jaeger de Carvalho, L, M., de Moura, F, F., Viana de Carvalho, V., Failla, M,L. Effect of style of home cooking on retention and bioaccessibility of pro-vitamin A carotenoids in biofortified pumpkin. Food Research International. 2015. Volume 77, Part 3, Pages 620–626.

(3) Whitney, E., Rolfes S.R. 2005.Understanding Nutrition.Thomas Wadsworth, Belmont, CA. p. 389; p.439.