All About Pumpkins

November 18, 2019 | Abby Caviness

When you hear the word “pumpkin,” you likely imagine the orange variety. However, pumpkins come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. Regardless of color, though, they all have some pretty great potential benefits you may want to know about. To get ready for Thanksgiving, USHEALTH Group® is providing the scoop on pumpkins and answering some commonly asked questions. *

What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkins?

Pumpkins have a remarkable nutrition label. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains:1

  • 49 calories
  • 0.2 grams of fat
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 12 grams of carbs
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 245 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A
  • 19 percent of the RDI of vitamin C
  • 16 percent of the RDI of potassium
  • 11 percent of the RDI of copper, manganese, and vitamin B12
  • 10 percent of the RDI of vitamin E
  • 8 percent of the RDI of iron
  • Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, and several B vitamins

Pumpkins also:1

  • Are high in antioxidants, which may lower your risk of chronic diseases and cancer
  • Pack vitamins and nutrients that may boost immunity, protect eyesight, promote weight loss, benefit heart health, and promote healthy skin.
  • Are insanely versatile and a simple addition to your diet

While pumpkin boasts some very impressive benefits, this should not encourage you to go buy yourself a pumpkin spice latte or a piece of pumpkin pie. These variations of pumpkin products often contain a lot of added sugar, which takes away from their natural benefits.1

What are White Pumpkins?

Are you ready for this? We are about to blow your mind.

White pumpkins are—wait for it—pumpkins that are white.

They are often referred to as ghost pumpkins, snowballs, Luminas, Caspers, or baby boos if they are smaller. While they are typically more expensive than regular orange ones, the only real difference is the color of the skin. They still have orange flesh and seeds like regular pumpkins—they are just perhaps more aesthetically pleasing.2

When Should You Buy a Pumpkin?

Pumpkins are considered winter squash, so they are in season during the fall and winter months, which is primarily why they are popular during Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you are buying a pumpkin to display in front of your house or in your house, uncarved pumpkins can last from 8 to 10 weeks, while carved pumpkins only last 5 to 10 days.3 So, when you buy your pumpkins, take into consideration how you plan to decorate them, so can you know how far in advance you want to buy them.

How Do You Keep a Pumpkin from Rotting?

When you first set out your carved and decorated pumpkins, your display can get you into the holiday spirit. However, your display can turn dark quickly when your happy pumpkin faces start to frown, and your pumpkin begins to shrivel. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your pumpkins last all season.

Fresh Tips4

  • Clean the inside before you carve with bleach to kill existing bacteria
  • Bath the pumpkin in bleach water after you carve it for up to 24 hours
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the carved edges after the bleach bath to keep them moisturized. WARNING: If you choose this option, do not use a real candle to light your pumpkin, because petroleum is highly flammable
  • Rehydrate your pumpkin daily with water and bleach
  • Store your pumpkin in the fridge overnight or in another cool, dark area of your house
  • Give your pumpkin an ice bath to rehydrate it, and remember to dry it to prevent mold
  • Do not use real candles to light it, since the candles essentially cook the pumpkin
  • Display your pumpkins in a stable temperature, or bring them inside during freezing temperatures
  • Leave your pumpkin uncarved and try painting it instead

Following these tips will ensure your pumpkins stay fresh and looking festive rather than freaky!

Are Pumpkins a Superfood?

Pumpkin does qualify as a superfood because it is low in calories and is full of:5

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Beta carotene
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin

The seeds in pumpkins are also high in:5

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese

These nutrients have a variety of potential benefits, which make pumpkin a healthy addition to some of your favorite dishes. So, whenever you can find a way to incorporate pumpkin to your meals, you might just try it!

Can I Eat Pumpkins Every Day?

While you should make sure you are eating a balanced diet every day, pumpkin can be a great way to supplement the shortage of fiber in the average American diet since it is so high in fiber.6 However, eating too much of one thing can have some adverse effects, so it is important to create variety in your meals to keep you healthy!

What are the Side Effects of Pumpkins?

Side effects from pumpkin are rare unless you know you are allergic. If you purchase products containing pumpkin, the other ingredients in the product could also produce a reaction if you are allergic or intolerant. In addition, if you eat a more-than-normal amount of pumpkin all at once, you may experience some negative effects.7

In addition, while your typical grocery store pumpkins are edible, there is a possibility of them causing a condition called toxic squash syndrome or cucurbit poisoning.8 This is due to the high concentration of Cucurbinacin E in the pumpkins, which can be toxic. This phenomenon results in the fruit tasting bitter.8 So, if you buy a pumpkin that tastes bitter, keep it out of your food!

Poisonous Pumpkins

Other toxic squash and gourd varieties include:8

  • Coyote melon
  • Buffalo gourd
  • The Cucurbita cordata
  • Cucurbita cylindrata
  • The Cucurbita digitata

Is Too Much Pumpkin Bad for You?

Eating too much of any food can make you sick if your body is not used to is, but there is one potential effect of eating too much pumpkin. If your mom ever said you would turn orange if you ate too many carrots, she was right. If you eat a lot of produce like pumpkins, carrots, peppers, and squash—which contain beta carotene—your skin can develop an orange or yellow tint, beginning in your hands and feet.9 This phenomenon is not anything to be concerned about, however. An increased intake of pumpkin seeds may also cause an increase in urination, which may cause serious issues for some individuals. If you have any concerns, you are better off contacting your healthcare provider for advice.7

Can I Eat Pumpkin Skin?

Absolutely! You can eat every part of the pumpkin. When you roast a pumpkin to use the flesh for your pie or soup, you can peel the skin from the pumpkin and turn them into pumpkin crisps for an interesting and healthy snack!10

Takeaway

Pumpkins are more than mere decoration. They can be incorporated into so many dishes to reap their nutritional benefits. Just make sure you are leaving out the excess sugar and sticking with a balanced diet, and you will find pumpkins are a delicious addition to your meals!

*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group® for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.

  1. Raman, Ryan, “9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin,” Healthline.com, published August 28, 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin
  2. The Associated Press, “White, The New Orange For Pumpkins,” CBSNews.com, published October 26, 2005, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/white-the-new-orange-for-pumpkins/
  3. Wyckoff, Whitney, “How Long Does A Pumpkin Last?” NPR.org, published October 24, 2011, https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2011/10/05/141094067/how-long-does-a-pumpkin-last
  4. Cepeda, Marlisse & Alcedo, Madison, “How to Keep Pumpkins From Rotting This Halloween,” WomansDay.com, published October 25, 2019, https://www.womansday.com/home/decorating/a56701/how-to-make-pumpkins-last-longer/
  5. Capretto, Lisa, “How Eating Too Much Pumpkin Can Change Your Skin,” HuffPost.com, modified December 6, 2017, https://www.myrecipes.com/healthy-diet/super-foods/health-benefits-of-pumpkin
  6. Ware, Megan, “What are the health benefits of pumpkins?” MedicalNewsToday.com, last modified January 5, 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279610.php
  7. WebMD, “Pumpkin,” WebMD.com, accessed November 15, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-810/pumpkin
  8. Myk, Justyna, “Are any pumpkins poisonous? Which pumpkins can you eat?” Falling4Fall.com, published March 5, 2019,
    https://falling4fall.com/are-any-pumpkins-poisonous-which-pumpkins-can-you-eat/
  9. My Recipes, “Superfood: Pumpkin,” MyRecipes.com, published October 8, 2008, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pumpkin-effects-on-skin-dermatologist_n_5927412
  10. Leibrock, Amy, “Skin to Seed: How to Eat an Entire Pumpkin,” SustainableAmerica.org, published October 11, 2018, https://sustainableamerica.org/blog/skin-to-seed-how-to-eat-an-entire-pumpkin/
By |2019-11-18T12:03:09-05:00November 18th, 2019|Categories: Nutrition|Tags: , , , |0 Comments