SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Pumpkin is a superfood that isn’t just for lattes, holiday pies or to be scooped out for jack o’lantern making purposes. 

Packed with health benefits, this fruit is so nutritional, it should be enjoyed during its peak season of September 15 through November 15. When out of season, canned pumpkin can be enjoyed as it is also packed with nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A and iron.

April Perkins, MS, RDN, LD. (photo provided by April Perkins)

“Pumpkin is a great source of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Beta carotene is responsible for pumpkin’s beautiful color and can help to promote eye health.” said registered dietician April Perkins of Perkins Nutrition.

One cup of pumpkin provides over 200 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is important to preserve vision, fight infections, maintain healthy skin and bones, and regulate cell growth and division.

“Pumpkin can improve the nutrient density of almost any meals and can be included in sweet or savory options. Add pumpkin purée to oatmeal to increase fiber, vitamins, and minerals at breakfast or roast cubed pumpkin for a delicious starch at dinner.” said Perkins.

When preparing a recipe that calls for fresh pumpkins, look for pumpkins without blemishes that are firm and heavy for their size. Also, don’t throw away the seeds as they provide valuable minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, folate, niacin and selenium.

“Pumpkin seeds provide insoluble fiber along with healthy fats and protein. These seeds can add diversity to the diet along with helping to regulate digestion and make for a great snack or salad topper any time of year.” said Perkins.

Pumpkin is also low in calories and is an excellent source of potassium at over 500 milligrams, which helps muscles contract, regulate fluids, maintain normal blood pressure, and balance minerals in and out of body cells.

When cooking with canned pumpkin, try to avoid using those that include salt and sugar. If a recipe calls for canned pumpkin pie mix, try using regular pumpkin and reducing the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.