What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin? Plus, What to Do With Them After Halloween…

How to Use Your Halloween Pumpkins to Benefit Your Family’s Health.

As a health professional, I have to admit…

Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday. 

I know, I know, call me a Halloween grinch but I’m just not a huge fan of a holiday centered around feeding kids sugar & fear. 

But over the years, I’ve found myself enjoying the holiday more and more. And that’s because I’ve chosen to focus less on the candy, and more on a healthy Halloween staple:

Pumpkin! 

Pumpkins are nutritional powerhouses. And let’s face it – they’re pretty fun to carve funny faces into! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let’s talk about the health benefits of pumpkin and what to do with all your leftovers after Halloween this year!

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin.

Did you know that pumpkin is actually a fruit?

It’s true! 

While many people think it’s a vegetable (probably because it’s always sitting next to the squash ๐Ÿ˜‚) pumpkins come from the flower of a plant, making them technically a fruit!

What’s more important, though, is this fruit is *packed* with fiber, vitamins, & minerals that have tons of nutritional benefits! 

Health benefits of pumpkin include:

1. Pumpkin contains a ton of essential vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in vitamins A & C. 

AND get this – Just one serving of pumpkin contains about 245% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A! [1] It’s super high in beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.

2. Pumpkin supports the immune system.

One of vitamin A’s many superpowers is that it supports the body’s natural defenses, boosting the immune system and helping to fight off infections. [2] 

3. Pumpkin helps keep your vision sharp & protects against eye damage. โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹

The vitamins and minerals in pumpkin, including vitamins C & E and beta carotene, help your eyes absorb light and protect them from aging, promoting their overall health. [3] [4]

4. Pumpkin promotes healthy skin.โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹

Do you have facial serums or moisturizers that contain vitamins C and E? This is because they have antioxidant properties that boost skin health! [6] [5] But healthy skin really starts on the inside. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

5. Pumpkin supports your heart.

Like most fruits, pumpkin contains a healthy dose of fiber. And fiber is your body’s best friend! It supports the body in many ways, one of which is by removing cholesterol from the body. [7]

Now, ^ these are all benefits you get from eating the pumpkin’s soft flesh. 

But we can’t forget about pumpkin seeds!  

Snacking on pumpkin seeds may even be more beneficial! 

Health benefits of pumpkin seeds include:

1. Pumpkin seeds support hormone balance. 

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc, & essential fatty acids, all of which promote hormone health. They support healthy progesterone levels, improve estrogen detoxification pathways, and can help balance blood sugar. [8] [9]

2. Pumpkin seeds can ease period cramps. โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹โ€‹

Have you heard of seed cycling? The idea is to eat certain seeds at certain times throughout your menstrual cycle to support the natural changes in hormone levels.

Pumpkin seeds are recommended during your menstrual phase because their high magnesium content helps detoxify excess estrogen, which can contribute to pain during your period.  [10]

3. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of fiber.

Most of us don’t eat enough fiber! Fiber is essential for having regular bowel movements, balancing blood sugar, and so much more. 

Snacking on pumpkin seeds is an easy & delicious way to get the fiber you need. 

Now that you understand the health benefits of pumpkin & pumpkin seeds, let’s talk about how you can use your leftover Halloween pumpkins to get the maximum health benefit!

What to Do with Your Pumpkins After Halloween.

Whether you carve your pumpkins or not, odds are you have a few hanging around your house after the holiday is over.

Depending on the state of your pumpkins, you have a few options for what you can do with them post trick-or-treating.

Roast the pumpkin seeds

If you’ve carved a pumpkin, don’t throw away those seeds! They’ll be perfectly suitable to roast, even if it’s been sitting outside. 

First, use a spoon to scoop out the guts & seeds. Do your best to separate them (this may get a little messy!) and give them a nice rinse inside a bowl of water. 

Once they’re clean, lay them out on a baking sheet, toss them in some olive oil and sea salt, and roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Be sure to add some Celtic Sea Salt or other seasonings to make them extra delicious!

Make pumpkin bread

If your whole pumpkin was sitting inside and still looks good, you can scoop out the flesh to make pumpkin bread! 

With a few pats of grass-fed butter or almond butter, your baked bread can also be part of a healthy breakfast or mid-morning snack. 

First you’ll want to make pumpkin puree. Once that’s done, here’s a healthy pumpkin bread recipe to try! 

Make pumpkin soup

Again, if the flesh is intact, pumpkin soup is a delicious fall dish and easy to make! Try this simple recipe which calls for fresh pumpkin. 

Cut cubes & throw them into smoothies.

You can also cut up the flesh into cubes, which you can keep in the freezer and throw into your smoothies for a punch of flavor and fiber. 

If you’ve never tried pumpkin in your smoothies, you’re missing out! It tastes like fall in a cup.

This delicious recipe shows you how to use canned pumpkin in your smoothies. 

Compost or feed them to the deer. 

If your pumpkin has been sitting outside and appears to be rotten, the flesh may not be in good enough shape to eat. But that doesn’t mean it should go to waste!

You can add it to your garden compost or throw it into the woods for the deer to eat. If you’re not going to benefit from those tasty nutrients, someone should! 

Enjoy Healthy Snacks After Halloween!

If you’re like me, and you have a hard time thinking about all the leftover candy that’s tempting your taste buds, get rid of it and focus on using your pumpkins to power-up your health! 

They are so FULL of nutrients, it’s a shame they aren’t available year-round. So take advantage of them while you can, freeze some, cook with some, and enjoy those roasted pumpkin seeds for the rest of the winter. Your body will thank you for it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Resources:

  1. Nutritional Value of Pumpkin 
  2. Beta Carotene & The Immune System
  3. Pumpkin & Eye Health
  4. Pumpkin & Eye Health
  5. Vitamin C & Skin Health
  6. Vitamin E & Skin Health
  7. Fiber & Heart Health
  8. Zinc & Hormones
  9. Essential Fatty Acids & Balanced Blood Sugar
  10. Magnesium and Period Pain
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