✓ Evidence Based

Pumpkin: Facts, Nutrition, Benefits, & More

Pumpkin is usually known as being part of the fall favorites for decor, but that isn’t all it’s good for. It is also a great ingredient and food to include in the diet and is extremely nutritious. 

Pumpkin is a lot more versatile than many believe it to be because it can be incorporated into both savory and sweet dishes. It is nutritious and provides a variety of health benefits. 

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about pumpkins. 

Fun Fact:The world record for the heaviest pumpkin ever recorded is over 2,600 pounds (about 1,179 kilograms)!

History and Facts 

Pumpkin comes from the genus Cucurbita and is known as a type of winter squash. It belongs to the plant family Cucurbitaceae and is native to the Americas but grown all over the world (1). Other members of this family include cucumbers, melons, and other types of gourds. Although pumpkin is most commonly referred to as round and orange, it may be used for many different squashes of varied appearance. 

These pumpkins typically have a rind on the outside that is thick and smooth and has a stem on top to connect it to the leaf part of the plant. Inside they are mostly hollow with flesh and seeds.  Because they contain seeds, pumpkin is technically a fruit. 

Some pumpkins are better for carving just like some pumpkins are better for baking and eating. The most common types of pumpkin include:

  • Jack-o’-lantern
  • Pie Pumpkins
  • Miniature Pumpkins
  • White Lumina
  • Atlantic Giant
  • Baby boo

Summary:Pumpkin is a winter squash native to North America and globally cultivated, has diverse varieties with distinct appearances, typically featuring a thick, smooth rind, a top stem, and a mostly hollow interior.

Nutrition Facts

If you didn’t already know, both pumpkin and the seeds from pumpkin are incredibly nutritious. 


In one cup (116 grams) of raw pumpkin, there are the following macronutrients (2):

  • Calories: 30.2 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 1.16 grams (g)
  • Total fat: 0.12 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 7.5 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 0.6 grams (g)

In one ounce (28 grams) of whole, roasted pumpkin seeds (without salt), there are the following macronutrients (3):

  • Calories: 126 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 5.3 grams (g)
  • Total fat: 5.5 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 15.3 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 5.2 grams (g)

Both raw pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are nutritionally dense. Both are overall on the lower side of calories and offer differing amounts of protein and fiber. Pumpkin seeds may be a good option for someone on the go who is looking for a sustaining and tasty snack. Pumpkins are a fantastic source of dietary fiber (4, 5). Fiber is essential for overall health and can aid in digestion.  Most Americans do not get adequate fiber in their diets. Eating a diet rich in fiber can help increase the feeling of fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes, lower cholesterol, and promote gut health (6).  

Summary:Both raw pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are nutritionally dense, with relatively low calories, and a good source of protein and fiber that can contribute to overall health and digestion.

Vitamins and Minerals 

In one cup (116 grams) of raw pumpkin, there are the following vitamins and minerals (7):

  • Calcium: 24.4 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 13.9 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 51 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 394 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin C: 10.4 milligrams (mg)
  • Folate: 18.6 micrograms (mcg)
  • Choline: 9.51 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin A: 494 micrograms (mcg)
  • Beta carotene: 3600 micrograms (mcg)
  • Alpha-carotene: 4660 micrograms (mcg)
  • Lutein + Zeaxanthin: 1740 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin E: 1.23 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin K: 1.28 micrograms (mcg)

In one ounce (28 grams) of whole, roasted pumpkin seeds (without salt), there are the following vitamins and minerals (8): 

  • Calcium: 15.6 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 74.3 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 26.1 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 261 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin C: 0.08 milligrams (mg)
  • Folate: 2.55 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin A: 0.85 micrograms (mcg)
  • Beta carotene: 0 micrograms (mcg)
  • Alpha-carotene: 0 micrograms (mcg)
  • Lutein + Zeaxanthin: 0 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin E: 0 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin K: 0 micrograms (mcg)

As you can see, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are high in tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Compared to raw pumpkins, pumpkin seeds contain no vitamin E, K, and antioxidant compounds (9). Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are high in vitamins A and C, both of which are important for overall health. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant necessary for immune health and promoting skin health. Pumpkin contains potassium, a necessary mineral that is involved in many processes and metabolic functions in the body, one of which is regulating blood pressure (10). 

Summary:Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are rich in essential vitamins and minerals, emphasizing their nutritional value and potential health benefits.

Health Benefits 

As you may guess, there are many health benefits to consuming pumpkin.

Contains Anti-inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection. It’s like your body’s alarm system, telling it to send help. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to various health issues. Now, here’s where pumpkins come to the rescue. Pumpkin flesh, not just the seeds, contains valuable nutrients that can help combat inflammation.

Beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant found in pumpkin, plays a significant role in reducing inflammation (11). It helps neutralize harmful free radicals and supports your body in its battle against chronic inflammation.

Vitamins A and C, also present in pumpkin, further enhance its anti-inflammatory properties (12). These vitamins support your immune system and help your body fight off infections, reducing the risk of prolonged inflammation.

Additionally, pumpkins are a good source of potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of inflammation-related conditions like heart disease (13).

Summary:Pumpkin contains beta-carotene, which can help reduce inflammation and reduce inflammation-related conditions like heart disease.

Promotes Digestive Health

A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that pumpkins are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them a fantastic digestive aid. Fiber is like a friendly broom for your intestines, sweeping away waste and ensuring smooth sailing for your digestive process. It helps prevent constipation and promotes regular bowel movements.

Pumpkins are loaded with essential nutrients like magnesium and zinc (14). These minerals play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut lining. Zinc is essential for proper immune function, and a healthy immune system is closely linked to good digestive health. It helps your body ward off infections and illnesses that can disrupt your digestive system.

Magnesium, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in muscle contractions, including those in your digestive tract (15). It helps keep things moving smoothly and prevents cramping or spasms that can lead to discomfort.

These orange wonders also contain healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, that can reduce inflammation in your digestive tract.

Summary:Pumpkin contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a great food to help with digestion, not to mention the gut-promoting nutrients it contains like magnesium and zinc.

Protects the Eyes

Pumpkins are rich in antioxidants like vitamin E and zinc (16). These antioxidants can help shield your eyes from the harmful effects of free radicals, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

But that’s not all! A study suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids found in pumpkins can support your eye health too. Omega-3s act as a shield for your retina, guarding against conditions like dry eye syndrome.

Pumpkins are also a natural source of phytosterols, which can help lower cholesterol levels (17). This means better blood flow to your eyes, which is essential for maintaining good vision!

And don’t forget about lutein and zeaxanthin, two more eye-loving nutrients in pumpkins (18). These compounds are known for their role in protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Think of them as natural sunglasses that can help shield your retinas from sun damage, potentially lowering the risk of age-related macular degeneration. 

Finally, pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene, which helps keep vision sharp and supports the retina to help it absorb light (19).

So, next time you carve that pumpkin for Halloween or whip up a delicious pumpkin soup, don’t discard the pumpkin flesh. Incorporate it into your meals and enjoy it as a tasty, eye-protecting treat.

Summary:The vitamin E, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants in pumpkin all support healthy vision and protect from vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.

Ways to Consume 

Pumpkins are most commonly known for being carved during the Halloween season and used for pies in Thanksgiving desserts in the United States and Canada. It can be most easily found in grocery stores in the raw produce section as well as in the canned goods area. Canned pumpkin should have only one ingredient, which is pumpkin.

Here are some other ways to eat more pumpkin: 

  • Make a pumpkin puree and use it in place of oil or butter
  • Top it onto yogurt or pudding
  • Mix it into your favorite baked goods like pancakes, muffins, and pies
  • Puree it into pumpkin soup
  • Roast it on its own or with other vegetables
  • Make a creamy curry base with coconut milk and pumpkin combined
  • Roast the pumpkin seeds and enjoy them as a snack
  • Use pumpkin in chili as a substitute for chili beans
  • Use it to make a dip or spread

Did You Know?:Every part of the pumpkin is edible, including the skin, leaves, flowers, and stem.

Potential Risks 

Although pumpkin is generally healthy and part of a balanced diet, there are some things to be aware of when consuming it. 

  • Pumpkin Allergy: Although rare, consuming pumpkin can induce allergy symptoms in some people (20). Rashes, itchy eyes, swelling of the face and lips, and generalized itching are some of the allergic symptoms to be aware of. Contact a medical professional if any of these reactions occur when eating pumpkin.
  • Pumpkin-Flavored Items: It is important to remember that although many foods and drinks have a pumpkin label, this does not mean they are automatically healthy. Be aware of pumpkin-baked goods like pie, muffins, and bread. Although these do contain some of the nutrients in pumpkin, they often are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Pumpkin-flavored drinks often do not offer any benefits of consuming actual pumpkins and are mostly just made from spice. Pumpkin pie mix, for example, is next to the canned pumpkin in grocery stores but has added sugars and syrups.

Summary:While pumpkin is generally a healthy addition to a balanced diet, caution should be exercised due to the rare occurrence of pumpkin allergies. Additionally, despite the association of pumpkin-flavored items with health, products like baked goods and drinks may contain high levels of sugar and carbohydrates which is something to be aware of.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if a pumpkin is ripe?

One of the easiest ways to tell if a pumpkin is ripe is by examining its rind. If the pumpkin is ripe, the rind will typically be hard. If a fingernail easily pierces the skin of the pumpkin, it may be a little bit too ripe. It should be strong enough to resist puncture by the fingernail and this means it is ready to pick. A ripe pumpkin will also sound hollow. 

How should pumpkin be stored?

Whole pumpkins can be stored for a few months in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Cut pumpkin should be stored in the fridge with the seeds removed, as these decay faster than the flesh. You can simply store it uncovered in the crisper and cut off the dried outer layer before cooking, or wrap it in plastic. Remember that pumpkins are susceptible to rotting, so it’s essential to monitor their condition regularly, especially if stored for an extended period. Always use your best judgment and discard any pumpkin that shows signs of spoilage, such as mold or an odor.

Fun Fact:Each pumpkin contains around 500 seeds.


Pumpkins are a versatile nutrient-dense food that offers a ton of pros for health. They can help support vision, and digestive health, and lower inflammation.

Roast pumpkin, puree it, or just eat the seeds and you will find benefits.

Next time you see raw or canned pumpkins, don’t be afraid to try them and see for yourself!