The Great Pumpkin

IMAGE Linus was a kid way ahead of his time, at least nutritionally speaking. He must have known that the Great Pumpkin brought more than toys for good children. Vitamin A, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and lots of flavor—these are the real gifts the pumpkin brings.

As American as Pumpkin Pie

Long before Linus began his yearly Halloween vigil in the pumpkin patch, this orange vegetable was well-known and loved. It was one of the first foods the Native Americans introduced to the colonists and it quickly became a staple of the Thanksgiving meal. It was so loved that one early Connecticut colony delayed Thanksgiving because the molasses needed to make pumpkin pie wasn't readily available.

More Than a Pretty Pie

The pumpkin is a member of the gourd family, which also includes watermelon, cucumber, muskmelon, and squash. The pumpkin is most similar to squash and is often classified as a winter squash.Being a brightly colored vegetable, the pumpkin is rich in many healthful nutrients, and low in fat and calories. It is especially lauded among nutritionists for its hefty doses of the antioxidants vitamin A and beta-carotene. The pumpkin's seeds, called pepitas, are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, protein, magnesium, phosphorous, and the vitamins E, C, and A. The following table outlines pumpkin's nutrient content:
Food, amount Calories Vitamin A Potassium (mg) Vitamin C (mg) Fiber (g)
Fresh pumpkin, boiled, 1 cup 48 264 RE; 2640 IU 562 12 2.6
Canned pumpkin, 1 cup 82 5382 RE; 53816 IU 502 10 7

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