Fact checkedFact Checked

This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.

 

6 Benefits of Pumpkin 2022: Nutrition, Health Benefits & How to Eat

Cassi Donegan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

Pumpkin, otherwise known as Cucurbita pepo, is a beautiful type of winter squash that can be grown around the world and varies in colors. For many, it’s commonly used as decorations in the fall, and a popular aroma is used in pumpkin spice candles. 

If you wonder if pumpkin is good for you, you are in the right place. Whether you’re a man, woman, or canine, there are many nutritional benefits for those who eat pumpkin. 

It can boost your immune system and help with heart health issues like high blood pressure. Parts of the pumpkin are found to be good for weight loss

This article will discuss how to use several parts of the pumpkin plant and some of its nutritional benefits. You’ll also read wellness tips for adding this food to your diet, skin, and hair regimen. 

Is Pumpkin Good For You?

Yes! Pumpkin is such a nutrient-dense food that it’s considered a superfood[1]. Superfoods are high in essential vitamins and minerals that can help promote an individual’s overall health in various ways. For example, the beta-carotene in pumpkin helps support your immune system and gut health.

Many people think of a pumpkin as a vegetable, but it’s actually a fruit that starts as a flower with leaves. It has seeds, stems, skin, and flesh. The nutrients in pumpkin can help prevent health conditions[2] such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Pumpkin Nutrition

Whether you’re looking to start eating pumpkin or if you’re adding more pumpkin to your diet, it’s good to know about its nutritional value. 

Pumpkin is 94% water, so what’s in the other 6% that makes this fruit so special? Let’s go over some of its top superfood qualities and highlight the pumpkin’s nutritional benefits. 

Vitamin C and E have powerful antioxidant properties that help fight infections and boost your immune system and brain health. 

These vitamins help wounds heal faster by increasing the production of white blood cells. This makes the immune cells work more efficiently. It can also boost skin health by replenishing cells.

Pumpkin is full of anti-inflammatory[3] influencers like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lutein. These antioxidants help protect your immune cells and fight off free radicals that cause chronic illnesses like cancer and coronary heart disease.

It also contains several B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, folate, copper, and a high amount of iron, making this food an excellent source for anyone, especially pregnant women and vegetarians. 

The potassium in the pumpkin can help prevent illness and may also strengthen your bone health by increasing bone mineral density[4]

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts

Canned pumpkin[5], without salt, nutrition facts, and analysis per 1 cup (245 gram).

1 cup = 83 Calories / Total Fat 0.7gram(g) / Saturated Fat 0.4g / Sodium 12milligram(mg) / Total Carbohydrate 20g / Dietary Fiber 7.1g / Sugar 8.1g / Protein 2.7g

NutrientAmountDaily Value
Calcium 64mg 5%
Copper0.26mg 29%
Folate [Vitamin B9]29.40 mcg7%
Iron3.4mg 19%
Niacin [Vitamin B3]0.899 mg6%
Pantothenic acid [Vitamin B5]0.980 mg20%
Potassium 505mg11%
Riboflavin [Vitamin B2]0.132 mg10%
Thiamin [Vitamin B1]0.059 mg5%
Vitamin A 1906.10 mcg 212% 
Vitamin B60.137 mg8%
Vitamin C [Ascorbic acid]10.3 mg11%
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)2.60 mg17%
Vitamin K39.2 mcg33%

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase your energy and mental clarity. They also have the nutrients to promote restful sleep. Including pumpkin helps with these things and more. Let’s go over a few of the pumpkin’s health benefits.

Beta-Carotene

Your body turns the beta-carotene you eat into vitamin A. Half of a cup of canned pumpkin provides all the daily intake of beta-carotene you need.

Beta-carotene is responsible for the bright orange color. It’s also found in carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. 

When you eat a diet rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, studies show a possible reduced risk for cancer[6], like lung[7] or prostate cancer. 

Studies also show carotenoid ingestion can help protect against the risk of colorectal cancer[8].

Vitamin A is important for your eye health and can protect your eyes as they age. Being deficient in this vitamin can stop the production of the pigments needed in our eyes and can cause vision loss[9]

Fiber

Dietary fiber is essential for a healthy diet and helps to build a good gut environment. It can even help control glucose or blood sugar levels.

Pumpkin is high in fiber which can help you eliminate belly fat by improving fat metabolism. It helps you to feel fuller and promotes a healthy weight. 

Fiber aids your body in detoxing waste products regularly by smoothing out your digestion process. It also slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into your blood. 

Fiber can also prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol[10] and high blood pressure[11]

One way you can make sure you’re getting enough of this important element in your diet is to add a quality fiber supplement

Benefits of the Pumpkin’s Seeds 

The health benefits of pumpkin seeds are many, from being a healthy snack to promoting hair growth. 

The seeds contain chlorophyll and produce an alkalizing action[12] in the body which helps create a healthy pH level and balance out gastric acids. 

Pumpkin seeds contain plant sterols and minerals that help lower blood pressure and raise good cholesterol levels, promoting heart health.

They also contain an amino acid called tryptophan that assists in making serotonin, the feel-good chemical that helps people sleep well.

Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil 

These seeds are 40-50% oil, which is also called pepita oil. Besides protective antioxidants, this oil contains linoleic acid, a heart-healthy fat called an omega-6 fatty acid.

This oil is also placed into supplement capsules for an easy way to take advantage of the benefits of pumpkin oil.

One main use of oil supplements is for urinary tract health. A study has also shown that pumpkin oil can reduce overactive bladders’ symptoms.

The oil has been shown to improve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia[13] (BPH) which can be painful and block the urine flow when the prostate gland becomes enlarged. 

Storing your pumpkin seed oil in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place will help it stay fresh longer. 

Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil for Hair 

There are now many products for your hair containing pumpkin seed oil. You’ll find this in serums, hair masks, shampoos, and conditioners. 

One study has shown that when pumpkin seed oil is applied to the hair of women suffering from hair loss, it increases hair growth[14]

Another study[15] shows that after taking 400 milligrams (mg) of pumpkin seed oil a day for 24 weeks, the men taking this for hair loss reported four times the amount of hair growth as the men in the study taking a placebo. 

It also promoted hair growth in mice[16] in a study when it was applied topically. 

You can warm this oil, massage it into your hair and scalp, and leave it for half an hour or overnight before washing it out with shampoo. 

Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil For Skin 

Pumpkin seed oil contains antioxidants that can lower inflammation and promote anti-aging skin cell health. This can improve the texture and appearance of your skin with the omega-fatty acids and vitamin C it provides. It includes zinc which helps produce collagen and new skin cells. 

You can buy skin butter, serums containing the oil, or a bottle of pure pumpkin seed oil for your face and body. 

Always do a small test of the product on your skin first to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction to it. 

Pumpkin in Your Diet

You have many options when adding more pumpkins to your diet. You can choose from cheese pumpkins, blue pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, pie pumpkins, and more. 

Raw pumpkin is technically edible, although most prefer cooked pumpkin. Its sweet flavor makes it a great addition to baked goods and savory dishes.

Canned pumpkin is convenient and commonly used in desserts like muffins and pies. 

Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin makes it easy to provide this nutrition to your dog by using it with dog treat recipes[17]

When selecting a fresh pumpkin, you’ll want to find one with smooth outer skin without any bruising or soft spots.  

Fresh pumpkins can be used to prepare your own unsalted pumpkin seeds by digging them out of the pumpkin and cleaning them off. Then after spreading them out on paper towels, you can let them sit and dry overnight. 

You can also roast pumpkin seeds in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. 

Dried and roasted pumpkin seeds make for a healthy snack or easy salad topping. If you’d like more flavor, you can toss them around in a little heart-healthy oil and seasoning. It’s also a tasty way to increase your fiber intake.

You can create a supercharged Pumpkin Harvest smoothie for you and your family by adding these ingredients to your blender any time of day:

  • ½ frozen banana
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) flax seeds
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup almond or oat milk (unsweetened)
  • ⅛ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop of protein powder

A few ways you can use pumpkin that you may not have thought of are 

  • Pancakes
  • Custards
  • Preserves
  • Salad dressings
  • Marinades
  • Butter substitute
  • Pumpkin soup
  • Hummus

Be aware that just because something says “pumpkin” doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. Many processed foods like pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, cookies, and greek yogurt can contain high amounts of sugar.

The risks of consuming the added sugar can outweigh the benefits of the pumpkin puree being used in the product, especially for someone with diabetes. 

Who Should Not Eat Pumpkin?

There are very few risk factors for eating pumpkins. It is overall a safe and healthy plant to eat. 

People who should not eat pumpkins include those who have experienced an allergic reaction to pumpkin or its parts. Allergic reactions to pumpkins are rare, but mild symptoms can include an itchy mouth and throat, itchy skin with hives, or a runny nose.

People with low blood pressure may need to avoid eating the seeds since these are known to help lower blood pressure with their antioxidant powers.

Infants should not eat the seeds or large amounts of pumpkin since the fatty acids and high fiber content can cause stomach upset and diarrhea. 

These symptoms can cause dehydration in little ones. Small amounts of pumpkin for infants are considered safe and are a healthy add-in to baby muffins. 

Conclusion

Eating pumpkin provides a wide range of benefits. With vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, the nutrient potential of this plant is clear.

If you make a point to include this in your diet, you may be pleasantly surprised by its effect on your hair, skin, digestive health, and overall well-being. 

Starting simple and replacing one snack a day with seeds or adding a batch of pumpkin muffins to your week may be all it takes to begin a path towards healthier living.  


+ 17 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. kaputk (2021). What Is a Superfood, Anyway? [online] Clevelandclinic.org. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-a-superfood/amp/
  2. Ros, E. and Hu, F.B. (2013). Consumption of Plant Seeds and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation, [online] 128(5), pp.553–565. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.112.001119.
  3. Khansari, N., Shakiba, Y. and Mahmoudi, M. (2009). Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress as a Major Cause of Age- Related Diseases and Cancer. Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery, [online] 3(1), pp.73–80. doi:10.2174/187221309787158371.
  4. Kong, S.H., Kim, J.H., Hong, A.R., Lee, J.H., Kim, S.W. and Shin, C.S. (2017). Dietary potassium intake is beneficial to bone health in a low calcium intake population: the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) (2008–2011). Osteoporosis International, [online] 28(5), pp.1577–1585. doi:10.1007/s00198-017-3908-4.
  5. Nutritionvalue.org. (2022). Pumpkin, without salt, canned nutrition facts and analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Pumpkin%2C_without_salt%2C_canned_nutritional_value.html
  6. Gong, X., Marisiddaiah, R., Zaripheh, S., Wiener, D. and Rubin, L.P. (2016). Mitochondrial β-Carotene 9′,10′ Oxygenase Modulates Prostate Cancer Growth via NF-κB Inhibition: A Lycopene-Independent Function. Molecular Cancer Research, [online] 14(10), pp.966–975. doi:10.1158/1541-7786.mcr-16-0075.
  7. Yu, N., Su, X., Wang, Z., Dai, B. and Kang, J. (2015). Association of Dietary Vitamin A and β-Carotene Intake with the Risk of Lung Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of 19 Publications. Nutrients, [online] 7(11), pp.9309–9324. doi:10.3390/nu7115463.
  8. Okuyama, Y., Ozasa, K., Oki, K., Nishino, H., Fujimoto, S. and Watanabe, Y. (2013). Inverse associations between serum concentrations of zeaxanthin and other carotenoids and colorectal neoplasm in Japanese. International Journal of Clinical Oncology, [online] 19(1), pp.87–97. doi:10.1007/s10147-013-0520-2.
  9. What Is Vitamin A Deficiency (2022). What Is Vitamin A Deficiency? [online] American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamin-deficiency
  10. Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W.W. and Sacks, F.M. (1999). Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 69(1), pp.30–42. doi:10.1093/ajcn/69.1.30.
  11. Aleixandre, A. and Miguel, M. (2016). Dietary fiber and blood pressure control. Food & Function, [online] 7(4), pp.1864–1871. doi:10.1039/c5fo00950b.
  12. A list of Acid / Alkaline Forming Foods. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/List_of_Acid-Alkaline_Forming_Foods_-_NEED_PRINT.pdf
  13. Hong, H., Kim, C.-S. and Maeng, S. (2009). Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nutrition Research and Practice, [online] 3(4), p.323. doi:10.4162/nrp.2009.3.4.323.
  14. Ibrahim, I.M., Hasan, M.S., Elsabaa, K.I. and Elsaie, M.L. (2021). Pumpkin seed oil vs. minoxidil 5% topical foam for the treatment of female pattern hair loss: A randomized comparative trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, [online] 20(9), pp.2867–2873. doi:10.1111/jocd.13976.
  15. Cho, Y.H., Lee, S.Y., Jeong, D.W., Choi, E.J., Kim, Y.J., Lee, J.G., Yi, Y.H. and Cha, H.S. (2014). Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2014, pp.1–7. doi:10.1155/2014/549721.
  16. Hajhashemi, V., Rajabi, P. and Mardani, M. (2019). Beneficial effects of pumpkin seed oil as a topical hair growth promoting agent in a mice model. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, [online] 9(6), pp.499–504. doi:10.22038/AJP.2019.13463.
  17. Staff, A. (2021). 3 Easy Pumpkin Recipes for Dogs. [online] American Kennel Club. Available at: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/3-pumpkin-recipes-for-dogs/
Cassi Donegan

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Cassi Donegan, Licensed Practical Nurse, is a freelance health writer and editor. She has over 17 years of nursing experience in various specialties including Neurology, Orthopedics, Spine, and Pediatrics. Patient care has convinced her to be passionate about educating others on nutrition, natural childbirth, home birthing, and natural remedies for the holistic and alternative healthcare field.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Harvard Health Publishing

Database from Health Information and Medical Information

Harvard Medical School
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology
Go to source

MDPI

United Nations Global Compact
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source