Pumpkin Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Pumpkin

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Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita maxima) is a variety of squash that is native to North America. While most of us have a favorite pumpkin pie recipe that we pull out during the fall and winter holidays, this versatile bright orange vegetable can be used to make smoothies, baked goods, soups, salads, and more. Pumpkin's rich nutritional stores make it a healthful food to consume year-round.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup of cooked pumpkin with no salt or fat added. 

  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 2g​

Carbs in Pumpkin

There are three types of carbohydrates in pumpkin. You'll get 3 grams of dietary fiber in a cup of pumpkin. There are also 2 grams of naturally occurring sugar in a single serving. The remaining carbs (7 grams) are starch or complex carbohydrates. 

When it comes to the affect pumpkin has on blood sugar, measured by the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), it is a little complicated. Pumpkin has a high GI of 75, but its glycemic load is low, at just 3. GL is considered a more accurate way to measure a food's impact on blood sugar because it is based on the typical serving size. 

Fats in Pumpkin

There is no naturally occurring fat in fresh pumpkin. Some varieties of canned pumpkin contain added fat. In addition, many pumpkin-flavored foods contain fat. For example, pumpkin pie and many pumpkin-flavored baked goods contain added fat. 

Pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks, popular during the fall and winter months, often contain fat from the dairy that is used to make them. However, these drinks typically do not contain any pumpkin but are flavored with pumpkin pie spice.

Protein in Pumpkin

Pumpkin is not a rich source of protein, with just 2 grams per cup. However, many pumpkin fans add fresh or canned pumpkin to protein-rich meals or smoothies. As a fiber-rich carbohydrate, pumpkin is a flavorful and healthy way to balance out out high-protein meals.

Micronutrients in Pumpkin

Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene—a carotenoid or natural pigment—that provides it with its bright orange or yellow color. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body, which helps you to maintain healthy skin, teeth, and vision. When you consume a cup of pumpkin, you'll get 87 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A if you follow a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

You'll also get 43 percent of your recommended intake of vitamin K, 29 percent of your recommended intake of copper, and 15 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. You'll also get a healthy boost of magnesium (18 percent), iron (19 percent), and potassium (512 percent).

Health Benefits

Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant and you'll get a healthy dose of it when you consume pumpkin. Antioxidants help repair oxidative stress and are considered to be protective against certain diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

One large-scale review of scientific research regarding the health effects of beta-carotene found that several studies indicated that a higher intake of beta-carotene was related to a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Adding pumpkin to soups or smoothies can help to boost the feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Each cup of pumpkin provides 3 grams of fiber to help you feel full longer. Fiber also helps to aid digestive health.

Common Questions

What are the different types of pumpkins? Can all of them be used for cooking?

Any pumpkin can be used for cooking, but some varieties are better than others. The large pumpkins that you see in grocery stores around Halloween are best for carving jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin varieties that are better for cooking include the Small Sugar (or New England Pie) pumpkins and Winter Luxury pumpkins. Buckskin, Chelsey, Dickinson Field, and Kentucky Field are often used for commercial canning. 

How do I choose the best pumpkin at the grocery store?

If you plan to cook with your pumpkin, look for those labeled "sweet pumpkin" or "pie pumpkin" they are usually smaller, less watery, and sweeter. Pumpkin shape doesn't matter but choose one with a stem that is 1 to 2 inches in length to avoid early decay.

Is canned pumpkin just as healthy as fresh pumpkin?

Some canned pumpkin contains ingredients other than the fresh squash. It's important to read the ingredients list (underneath the Nutrition Facts label) to determine how healthy the product is. Look for canned pumpkin that contains no added sugar, sodium, or fat. Many times canned pumpkin pie filling contains some of these added ingredients, making it less healthy than fresh pumpkin. But some canned pumpkin contains no added ingredients and is just as healthy as the fresh vegetable—although many cooks still prefer the fresh variety.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

Cooking pumpkin is easy. Simply remove the stem and split it open with a sharp knife. Remove the pumpkin seeds (and roast them for a delicious and nutritious treat) and cut the flesh into two halves or into large chunks depending on how you plan to prepare it. Rinse well under cold weather.

To boil or steam pumpkin, place chunks in a large pot with a few inches of water in the bottom. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until tender.

To roast pumpkin, place two halves on a baking sheet with the skin facing up (flesh facing down). Bake at 350°F for about an hour until you can pierce the flesh with a fork and it is tender. 

Use fresh or canned pumpkin in any of these recipes:

During the busy holiday seasons, it’s helpful to make sure that meals include carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Pumpkin can be a seasonal and delicious way to include nutrient-rich carbohydrates at meals and help support a stable energy level.

Allergies and Interactions

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology pumpkin is not a food usually associated with allergic reactions. However, there have been some cases of pumpkin allergy. Symptoms can occur after carving or eating pumpkin and may include itchy eyes, sneezing, eyelid swelling, and chest tightness.

It is also possible, but not common, to be allergic to pumpkin seeds, according to published research.

If you suspect that you have a pumpkin allergy, speak with your healthcare provider about your symptoms to get a proper diagnosis. 

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