Pumpkin is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family.

It’s native to North America and particularly popular around Thanksgiving and Halloween.

In the US, pumpkin typically refers to Cucurbita pepo, an orange type of winter squash. In other regions, such as Australia, pumpkin may refer to any type of winter squash.

While commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. That said, it’s nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruits.

Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is nutritious and linked to many health benefits.

Here are 9 impressive nutrition and health benefits of pumpkin.

Pumpkin has an impressive nutrient profile.

One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains (2):

  • Calories: 49
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 16% of the RDI
  • Copper: 11% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI
  • Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also relatively low in calories, as it’s 94% water (2).

It’s also very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A.

Moreover, pumpkin seeds are edible, nutritious and linked to numerous health benefits.

High Antioxidant Content May Reduce Your Risk of Chronic Diseases

Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria.

However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.

Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.

Test-tube and animal studies have shown that these antioxidants protect skin against sun damage and lower the risk of cancer, eye diseases and other conditions.

Vitamins That May Boost Immunity

Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients that can boost your immune system.

For one, it’s high in beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.

Studies show that vitamin A can strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. Conversely, people with a vitamin A deficiency can have a weaker immune system.

Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which has been shown to increase white blood cell production, help immune cells work more effectively and make wounds heal faster.

Aside from the two vitamins mentioned above, pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E, iron and folate — all of which have been shown to aid the immune system as well.