By Ministry Health Care staff
Special to the Star Journal
Every year, we see pumpkins brightening up our yards, and our front porches in the fall months; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit. Pumpkins are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. Pumpkins are a type of squash.
There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.
Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a haystack or in a garage.
Aside from being tasty, pumpkins are very good for you and fit into a healthy diet! They are lower in calories and contain a generous amount of fiber; the nutrient that keeps us fuller for longer and may lower the risk of heart disease. Beta-carotene, found in the flesh of the pumpkin, not only gives most pumpkins their bright orange color but also acts as an antioxidant, protecting our cells from damage. It also contains copper and riboflavin.
Digging into the pumpkin you will find the pumpkin seeds. These can be baked and enjoyed as a tasty and crunchy snack. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, iron and B vitamins.
Pumpkins are grown all across the globe, even here in Wisconsin where you can easily pick one up from a local farm. They can be carved, baked into a pie or pureed into a soup while being a great source of nutrients in your diet. Pumpkins are a healthy and delicious type of squash along with being the mascot fruit of fall, so pick one up and get into the fall spirit!