Despite the abundance of pumpkin pies and pumpkin spice in seemingly everything this time of year, pumpkins are, in fact, a healthy option for food and an excellent source of beta carotene, a water-soluble form of vitamin A, and a good source of vitamin C, explains Jenna Anding, Ph.D., professor and associate department head for the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist. 

Pumpkins are fruits, not veggies

“Botanically, anything that starts from a flower is considered a fruit,” said Joe Masabni, Ph.D., assistant professor for horticultural sciences and AgriLife Extension vegetable specialist, Overton. “So tomato, pumpkin, cucumber, strawberry, etc., are all fruits. However, how they are commonly described as is different.” 

Pumpkin makes a good substitute

Pumpkins are mostly water. So used in the right way, they can be a good substitute for higher-calorie ingredients like butter and other fats. 

1/2 cup of pumpkin puree = 1/2 cup of oil 

3/4 cup of pumpkin puree = 1 cup of butter 

1/4 cup of pumpkin puree = 1 egg

Visit Dinner Tonight to see how to make your own pumpkin puree. 

Pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie

As the holidays approach, the debate over which pie to choose is tough, but if a healthier choice may sway your decision, here’s a breakdown from AgriLife Extension. 

If you swap and eat a slice of pumpkin pie instead of pecan pie, you automatically save 170 calories and 33 grams of added sugar. Pecan pie has 500 calories per slice, or 1/8 of the pie, and 61 grams of sugar. Pumpkin pie of the same size slice has 330 calories and 29 grams of sugar. 

Pumpkin is also 90% of your daily value for vitamin A and 15% of your daily value for calcium. 

Go for the pumpkin!