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Pumpkins: More than just a decoration

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(WWSB)- Pumpkin patches and jack-o-lanterns are Halloween traditions. But according to Jen Willoughby, RD, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, pumpkins are more than a Halloween staple, they’re a healthy snack option as well.

“Pumpkin has a lot of fiber in it,” said Willoughby. ”A cup of regular pumpkin or pureed pumpkin has three grams of fiber and not that many calories. Many kids are short on fiber, so if we can get them to eat more pumpkin, that’s a great way to help them out.”

Pumpkins also have key nutrients that helps children maintain their eye sight; beta-carotene gives the pumpkin its orange color and converts to vitamin A, according to Willoughby.

And pumpkin also has potassium, which is important for blood pressure control and muscle recovery.

But, Willoughby said it’s important to be able to recognize the difference between real pumpkin and imposters.

“Pumpkin products in the store, unfortunately, aren’t the same as pumpkin itself,” said Willoughby.  “Now some of them are, but you have to be careful and you have to look at the ingredient list and see if there’s pumpkin flavor, or if there’s pumpkin in it.”

And if you're looking for something to do with the leftover mess from your jack-o-lanterns, take those pumpkin seeds and roast them, they're full of fiber.