Pumpkins can provide you with healthy nutrition, as well as interesting decorations during the fall season. Use a cooking pumpkin for your table centerpiece, and then cook it to make pumpkin concentrate later. Pumpkin concentrate is useful in many types of recipes, such as muffins, pies and smoothies. It can even be used to make a tasty pumpkin soup. You can make your own concentrate or buy it already prepared in stores. Store-bought pumpkin concentrate may come as canned pumpkin puree or dry powdered pumpkin.
Adding pumpkin concentrate to your diet will not only add color and variety but also vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Usually, no fat, cholesterol or sodium is found in homemade pumpkin concentrate. If you buy canned pumpkin concentrate, it may contain some sodium, and powdered pumpkin may have a small amount of fat. Surprisingly, 1/2 cup of low-sodium, canned pumpkin has 1 gram of protein and only 40 calories.
Good Source of Fiber
The flesh of the pumpkin can be boiled down to a smooth, concentrated paste that can provide women with a good source of fiber. Just 25 grams of fiber per day will help normalize bowel movements, lower blood cholesterol and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Adding more fiber to your diet can help you with weight loss. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides 3 grams of fiber with only 49 calories. A 1/2-cup serving of canned pumpkin contains 4 grams of fiber, which meets 16 percent of your daily value, while 100 grams of powdered pumpkin will provide you with 23 grams of fiber, or 92 percent of your daily value.
Pumpkin concentrate contains several antioxidants -- scavenger molecules that bind to tissue-damaging free radicals formed when your cells react to various environmental factors like smoking, diet and radiation. Antioxidants are like tiny body guards protecting your cells. Pumpkin concentrate antioxidants, such as beta-carotene or vitamin E, can reduce the effects of aging and possibly help fight cancer and heart disease. One cup of boiled pumpkin contains 3 milligrams of vitamin E, while 100 grams of powdered pumpkin has 14.6 milligrams. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin E for women is 15 milligrams.
Any form of pumpkin concentrate is a good source of vitamins A, C, E and certain B-complex vitamins. Vitamin A benefits your vision and immune system, while keeping your red blood cells healthy. Vitamin C helps your body form various tissues and supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which are critical to brain function. Also, both niacin and folate, which are B-complex vitamins, assist your body with healthy cellular metabolism.
Six minerals are present in pumpkin concentrate: iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. One cup of canned pumpkin has 14 percent of the daily value of potassium, while 100 grams of powdered pumpkin has 129 percent of the DV. Potassium helps certain enzymes in your body to function. Eating pumpkin can supply calcium needed for healthy bones, iron for healthy blood and magnesium for energy. Proper levels of zinc benefit your immune, reproductive and nervous systems, while selenium helps regulate your thyroid hormone.
- Nutrition Facts: Pumpkin, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- University of Illinois, Extension: Pumpkin Nutrition
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber -- Essential for a Healthy Diet
- United States Department of Agriculture: Pumpkin -- Low-Sodium, Canned
- Rice University: Antioxidants and Free Radicals
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamins
- Linus Pauling Institute: Minerals
- Nutrition Facts: Pumpkin Powder
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.