“If you believe the sales pitch, the pumpkin is the happiest, healthiest food,” said Suzy Weems, Ph.D.


But is it really? At this time of year we all flock to pumpkin. Today in the store I saw the following (note – I was looking for pumpkin products):

  • canned pumpkin
  • pumpkin coffee
  • pumpkin bread
  • pumpkin bread mix
  • pumpkin cookies – frosted, un-frosted, with nuts, and with chocolate chips
  • pumpkin pie
  • pumpkin flavored whip cream
  • pumpkin flavored peanut butter (really?)
  • pumpkin flavored coffee creamer
  • pumpkin beer
  • pumpkin pancake mix
  • pumpkin Oreo (NO)
  • pumpkin ice cream
  • pumpkin Pop-Tarts
  • pumpkin hummus

I am sure that there was plenty more out there that I did not see. Needless to say America is OBSESSED with pumpkin in the fall. Here are the positives and pitfalls of pumpkin:

Pumpkin positives:

  • Fiber. Nice thing for dieters who want a full feeling.
  • Zeaxanthin. Hard to pronounce, but a weapon against age-related macular degeneration and impaired eyesight.
  • Low in cholesterol and high in Vitamin A. For healthy skin and eyes — and an aid in fighting cancer.
  • Magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, protein, zinc and iron. On the USDA/FDA rating schedule, pumpkins are a good source of all those. Add them up, and you’ve got a cocktail for energy, growth and a top-notch immune system.

Pumpkin pitfalls:

  • Pumpkin snacks:  Pumpkin-laced candy is still candy.
  • Pumpkin desserts: Notice how much pumpkin is really is in it, and look for sugar amounts – I bet they are high.
  • Pumpkin in coffee or for breakfast: A pumpkin latte is not going to mean any fewer calories. And pumpkin doughnuts, bread and pastries still have sugar.

So make the decision for yourself. Can you make pumpkin a part of your fall without adding too many calories, sugar, and fat?