Updated: Nov 17, 2022
Alongside bats, vampires, and cobwebs, pumpkins are well known for their association with the season of autumn and as an essential piece of Halloween decor. But they are so much more than a seasonal decoration. In this blog post, I will explore the fantastic benefits of pumpkins, their seeds, and how we can use them instead of throwing them away at the end of the spooky season!
Skip to: The History of Jack o' Lanterns
The History of Jack o’ Lanterns
Everyone knows Halloween is around the corner when Starbucks bring out their pumpkin-spiced lattes, and the shelves are stacked with pumpkin-shaped decor. This is because pumpkins and squashes are in season in the northern hemisphere during the peak fall harvest months from the end of August until the end of October. This glut (large harvest) of pumpkins is why they were traditionally consumed in large quantities during autumn or fall, as it is known in America.
Although the tradition began with carving other root vegetables like turnips, potatoes, and beetroots, the streets now become lined with Jack o’ Lanterns. In the Celtic tradition of Samhain, this is to ward off demons and evil spirits. While the scientific literature on their demon protection abilities is sparse, there is widely available evidence of their health benefits.
Why Should You Eat Your Pumpkin?
In the UK alone, it’s estimated that this year around 39.9 million pumpkins will be bought, and 22.2 million will go to waste after Halloween - that’s a whopping £32.6 million worth of edible food!
The average family throws a staggering £730 worth of food in the bin every year! Not only this, but it also contributes towards climate change. Science shows that the long-term changes to our weather patterns and temperatures are driven by human activity. This leads to rising sea levels, flooding, wildfires, melting ice, and extreme weather events, putting habitats, wildlife and humans all at risk! While it might not directly affect all of us at the moment, we need to take action now to lessen the damage!
While this may sound daunting, reducing food waste is the easiest thing we can tackle! Globally, we waste one-third of all food produced; in the UK, we waste 70% of this within our homes. If we reduce our food waste, the average family could save up to £730 a year! Not only this, but we could also save 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking 1 in 5 cars off our roads. Great!
Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
Both pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds are potent sources of nutrition. Pumpkin fruit is an excellent source of B vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Pumpkins are rich in phytochemicals like cucurbitacins, saponins, carotenoids, phytosterols, and polyphenols. They also contain vitamin C, potassium, carotenoid, and antioxidant beta-carotene, which gives orange pumpkins their colour.
In one cup of cooked pumpkin, you’ll find the following nutrients:
Calories 49 kcal
Protein 1.8 g
Carbohydrates 12 g
Fat .2 g
Fibre 2.7 g
Vitamin A 245% DV
Vitamin C 19% DV
Vitamin E 10% DV
Riboflavin 11% DV
Copper 11% DV
Magnesium 6% DV
Potassium 16% DV
Iron 8% DV
And in one ounce of pumpkin seeds, you’ll find:
Calories 146 kcal
Protein 9.2 g
Carbohydrates 3.8 g
Fat 11.8 g
Fibre 1.1 g
Vitamin K 17% DV
Riboflavin 5% DV
Copper 19% DV
Magnesium 37% DV
Phosphorus 33% DV
Iron 23% DV
Zinc 14% DV
Manganese 42% DV
There are also links between eating pumpkins and:
I have added links here if you are interested. However, to summarise, these benefits come from their high micronutrient and antioxidant content, helping to reduce inflammation within the body!
I have been busy putting together some delicious recipes for you to try with your leftover Halloween Pumpkins. These are perfectly balanced with lovely warming spices to keep you going during these cold winter months. So wrap up warm, cook some delicious soup, and enjoy your favourite Christmas movies!
If you have enjoyed this blog post, please check out my other articles below or subscribe to receive updates from 50 Ways To Cook with future recipes, sustainable food tips, and blog posts. Have a wonderful day, Alex 🤠