Sara Kelly

Sara Kelly, Hy-Vee dietician

Pumpkins make great jack-o-lanterns, but did you know they’re also packed with heart-healthy nutrients?

That bright orange color means they’re a great source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, immunity, bone growth, and reproductive health.

Pumpkins are one of the best sources of beta-carotene. In fact, just one cup of cubed or canned pumpkin provides over 100% of your daily vitamin A requirement. Pumpkin is also a great source of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, and they have more potassium than a banana!

That can of pumpkin can be used for much more than just pie. Trying whisking it in pancake or waffle batter, a latte, oatmeal, homemade fall-vegetable soup, or even a salad dressing.

If you’re carving a pumpkin this Halloween, don’t throw those seeds out -- pumpkin seeds (otherwise known as pepitas) are an excellent source of antioxidants, iron, protein, and fiber. After cleaning off excess pumpkin, spread the seeds out on a sheet pan and roast at 300 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sprinkle them on salads, cereals, or make your own trail mix. Roasted seeds stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator should stay fresh for about two months.

Sara Kelly is a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee stores in Rochester. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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