5 Health Benefits of Pumpkin from an Online RDN

just do it pumpkin spice memes

We’ve all come across those memes poking fun at the annual return of pumpkin spice, and it seems like the world has a love-hate relationship with all things pumpkin. (No aisle-crossers here, it seems.)

However, as RDNs, we feel compelled to highlight the health advantages of actual pumpkins (not those spiced lattes that pack a whopping 380 calories and an excessive amount of sugar in a 16 oz. cup). Pumpkins, along with squash in general, are nutritional powerhouses.

With Halloween coming (when many pumpkins fulfill their destiny as Jack-o-Lanterns) and Thanksgiving just around the corner, let’s delve into the realm of pumpkin nutrition. We love pumpkins, and there are real nutrition-backed reasons why you should, too!


  • Boost Your Fiber Intake: On average, Americans require 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily, yet we’re only consuming about 13 grams. Pumpkin offers a rich source of soluble fiber, which aids in digestion and reduces the risk of constipation, ultimately improving colorectal health. Plus, it’s a heart-healthy choice.
  • Give Your Eyes a Boost with Carotenoid Antioxidants: Pumpkin contains carotenoid antioxidants that are excellent for maintaining good eye health and preserving your youthful appearance from the inside out.
  • Achieve Radiant Skin: The antioxidants and vitamin C found in pumpkin contribute to a vibrant complexion. (I’ll spare you the temptation of a cheesy Jack-o-Lantern reference about “glowing.” Well, maybe just one—glow!) Besides promoting healthier skin, the lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E in pumpkin help shield us from harmful UV rays. So, this magical orange winter squash not only keeps us healthy but ensures we don’t turn orange ourselves. (Okay, promise, no more puns!)
  • Keep those winter bugs at bay! Our bodies convert beta-carotene into the mighty vitamin A, a defender of the immune system and a formidable foe against infections. In the wintertime, we tend to be more susceptible to those pesky bugs, thanks to our cozier yet confined indoor spaces with recirculated air from heating systems. When you toss in a decline in vitamin D (courtesy of less sunlight), it becomes crucial to bolster your defenses throughout the long winter months.
  • And don’t even think about discarding those seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds, whether sprinkled over salads, enjoyed as snacks, or added to your favorite pumpkin soup, are champions of gut health. They come packed with zinc, a warrior for the immune system, and phytosterols, the valiant antioxidants that combat free radicals. So, after you’ve finished carving your Jack-o’-Lantern, pop those seeds into the oven with a pinch of sea salt and a dash of pepper.


Winter and pumpkin make for a delightful culinary pairing! Some of our cherished winter recipes feature this versatile ingredient. For instance, prepare butternut squash adorned with pumpkin seeds and cranberries, or indulge in pumpkin pancakes, oatmeal, and bran muffins to entice your family from their cozy beds on frosty mornings. Opt for simplicity—roast pumpkin in the oven and scoop it out with a spoon. Drizzle it with honey to satisfy your sweet cravings, or add a spicy kick with chile peppers.

No matter how you choose to savor it, keep pumpkin on your radar this holiday season. It’s more than just the star of Jack-o’-Lanterns and pies (though those are pretty fabulous too).


Crispy air-fried pumpkin slices. It’s a delicious and healthy snack or side dish.



  • 1 small pumpkin (sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin works well)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional, for added flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat Your Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). This typically takes about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Pumpkin: Wash the pumpkin thoroughly and then cut it into thin slices. You can leave the skin on or peel it, depending on your preference. Remove the seeds and the stringy interior.
  3. Season the Pumpkin: In a large mixing bowl, toss the pumpkin slices with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder (if using), salt, and pepper. Ensure the pumpkin slices are evenly coated with the seasoning.
  4. Arrange in the Air Fryer: Place the seasoned pumpkin slices in a single layer in the air fryer basket. It’s important not to overcrowd the basket to allow for even cooking.
  5. Air Fry: Cook the pumpkin slices at 375°F (190°C) for about 10-12 minutes. You may want to flip them halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Keep an eye on them as cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the slices and your air fryer model.
  6. Check for Doneness: The pumpkin slices are done when they are tender on the inside and have a crispy, golden exterior. If needed, you can air fry for an additional couple of minutes.
  7. Serve: Once the pumpkin slices are ready, transfer them to a serving platter. You can sprinkle a bit of extra salt or seasoning if desired. Serve them hot as a delightful snack or side dish.
  8. Enjoy: Enjoy your air-fried pumpkin slices with your favorite dipping sauce. Try tzatziki or a yogurt-based dip.


These air-fried pumpkin slices make for a healthy and flavorful snack or side dish, and they’re perfect for autumn. Feel free to experiment with different seasonings to suit your taste preferences.