Anatomy of a…Pumpkin

Medically Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on September 01, 2005
From the WebMD Archives

You may think of it simply as a Halloween jack-o'-lantern, but the pulp from this low-fat, low-sodium vegetable is an ancient, healthful power food.

One cup of cooked pumpkin has 564 mg of potassium, 2650 IU of vitamin A (providing an amazing 310% RDA) and just 80 calories.

The orange color isn't just for show-
it means the pumpkin is loaded with an important antioxidant: beta carotene.

Adding beta carotene to your diet could reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer, including prostate, and protect against heart disease. In the past, this staple was used to treat various ailments, including snakebites and…freckles!


Low-Carve Treat

Pumpkin Potato Soup

Makes 5 servings

3 cups mashed potatoes, made with low-fat milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
11/2 cups fat-free half-and-half or low-fat milk
11/2 cups shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste (optional)
5 tbsp fat-free or light sour cream

1. Prepare the mashed potatoes using milk only (no butter). Add the pumpkin and the fat-free half-and-half (or low-fat milk) to a medium saucepan; whisk to blend well.

2. Add the cheese, pumpkin-pie spice and cinnamon and stir to combine. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add pepper and salt, if desired.

3. Spoon into five serving bowls, then swirl a tablespoon of fat-free or light sour cream into each bowl of soup.

Per serving: 276 calories, 19 g protein, 36 g carbohydrate, 6.3 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 3.2 g fiber, 300 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 22%


Another Beta Blast
Chomp into a carrot, another great source of both beta-carotene antioxidant and vitamin A. Nutrients in carrots can strengthen the immune system and help maintain healthy skin.

Lighten up your cooking by going to and search "magazine."