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Health Benefits of Pumpkin

You carve them into jack-o’-lanterns, bake them into muffins and let them flavor your lattes. Yes, pumpkins are everyone’s favorite orange squash. And, drumroll, please: They’re good for you! (Except when it comes to the pumpkin spice lattes. There’s no real pumpkin in there — just sugar, and you know that’s not good.)

What exactly are pumpkins?
First things first; Pumpkins are a type of winter squash, a class of vegetables related to cucumbers and melons. You can bake or steam sliced or cubed pumpkin, or you can use unsalted canned pumpkin in recipes — an easy way to get this nutritious veggie into your diet.

Why are they good for you?
Pumpkins are a true superfood. They have not just one, but many standout nutrients. Pumpkin is really high in fiber (1 cup of canned pumpkin has 7 grams), it’s an excellent source of vitamins C and K, iron, magnesium and potassium, and it’s extraordinarily high in vitamin A (1 cup has 763 percent of the DV). It also has a smattering of B vitamins and calcium, so overall it is a nutrient-packed gourd. It’s also quite low in calories (83 in 1 cup). The bright orange color also signals the presence of carotenoids — a class of compounds that act as antioxidants and have been linked to eye health.

What about the seeds?
If you roast the pumpkin seeds, you’ll get even more good-for-you nutrients. Pumpkin seeds are crunchy capsules of heart-healthy unsaturated fats and protein. They’re also loaded with iron and other minerals.

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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