Many people think of pumpkins as little more than a Halloween decoration or a Thanksgiving pie filling. However, it may be time to rethink this plump, nutritious orange plant. Pumpkin is a highly nutrient-dense food. It is rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices all pack a powerful nutritional punch. There are many ways pumpkin can be incorporated into desserts, soups, salads, preserves, and even as a substitute for butter. This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It will explore the health benefits and nutritional content of pumpkins, as well as ways to include more in the diet. • The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure. • The antioxidants in pumpkin could help prevent degenerative damage to the eyes. • Avoid canned pumpkin pie mix, as it typically contains added sugars and syrups. • Uncut pumpkins should be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. • Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin can be used as a replacement for butter or oil in baking recipes. Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color. The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A. Consuming foods rich in beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, offer protection against asthma and heart disease, and delay aging and body degeneration. Many studies have suggested that eating more plant foods such as pumpkin decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality. It can also help prevent diabetes and heart disease, and promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and a healthful body mass index (BMI). Pumpkins are also a powerful source of fiber. They have demonstrated the following health benefits. Regulating blood pressure Eating pumpkin is good for the heart. The fiber, potassium, and vitamin C content in pumpkin all support heart health. Studies suggest that consuming enough potassium may be almost as important as decreasing sodium intake for the treatment of hypertension, or high blood pressure. Decreasing sodium intake involves eating meals that contain little or no salt. Increased potassium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, and preservation of bone mineral density. Reducing the risk of cancer Research has suggested a positive relationship between a diet rich in beta-carotene and a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Beta-carotene has also been shown to hold back the development of colon cancer in some of the Japanese population. Pumpkins contain a wealth of antioxidants. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to support eye health and prevent degenerative damage. A cross-sectional study of older African-American women showed that eating 3 or more fruit servings per day was associated with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. It also led to slower progression of the disease. Pumpkin helps to control diabetes. The plant compounds in pumpkin seeds and pulp are excellent for helping the absorption of glucose into the tissues and intestines, as well as balancing levels of liver glucose. They may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, but this effect is not consistently demonstrated. However, the compounds have such an impact that researchers suggest that they could be reworked into an anti-diabetic medication, though further studies are needed.