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Food Highlight: Pumpkin

Food Highlight: Pumpkin

Food Highlight: Pumpkin

Food Highlight:  PumpkinAs October approaches, pumpkin flavored products and recipes are plastered all over the internet. While decidedly seasonal, pumpkin itself can be found canned throughout the year. This orange colored, savory fruit can add a ton of nutrients and flavor to recipes from baked goods to soups, salads, and main dishes.

According to the USDA, one cup of fresh, cooked pumpkin provides 49 calories, 0.17 g fat, 12 g carbohydrates, and 2.7 g fiber. While using fresh pumpkin would be the most ideal, canned pumpkin is a good alternative (provided it is 100% pumpkin). One cup of cooked, canned pumpkin provides 83 calories, 1 g fat, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, over 700% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 50% vitamin K, 17% of vitamin C, and 10% or more for vitamin E, riboflavin, potassium, copper and manganese, as well as 5% for thiamin, B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. While fresh pumpkin may have its benefits, canned pumpkin remains a great choice, can quickly be incorporated into your diet, and is more readily available throughout the year. In addition, pumpkin seeds can make a good choice. While they are higher in calories at 285 calories per cup, they also provide 12 g protein and 12 g fiber, in addition to potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and iron.

The vibrant orange color of the pumpkin should be a good indicator of its high beta carotene levels. Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to reduction of certain types of cancers, and offers protection from asthma and heart disease. In addition, beta carotene along with vitamins C and E have been shown to support eye health and prevention of degenerative damage.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related illnesses, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. But pumpkin, due to its nutrient profile, is particularly good for the heart. Its fiber, vitamin C, and potassium are helpful in the treatment of high blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke.

Pumpkin can be used in a wide variety of foods. Creamy pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins or pancakes, added to Greek yogurt with cinnamon and nutmeg, stir some in your oatmeal, add some to your next batch of chili, in your pasta sauce, or make pumpkin butter. The ideas seem limitless. But for gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band patients to get the most benefit, we suggest our bariatric weight loss patients try to incorporate pumpkin into their main dishes instead of sweets in order to reap pumpkin’s benefits without adding unnecessary calories and sugar into their post surgical diet.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili
Adapted from Whole Foods’ Recipe

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomato with liquid
  • 1 can 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 can red or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Add turkey and cook until browned. Drain fat, if needed. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, and spices. Reduce heat to medium low and add beans. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with plain greek yogurt and diced avocado for extra flavor.

The above food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified general surgeon specializing in bariatric weight loss surgeries, including adjustable lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass. Dr. Shillingford and his staff enjoy providing our patients with information on foods that can be incorporated into a healthy post surgical bariatric diet. Dr. Shillingford’s gastric sleeve, gastric band, and gastric bypass patients come from all over South Florida, including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Delray Beach, Pompano, and the Palm Beaches.

American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Realize Obesity Help American Medical Association Obesity Medicine UNIVERSITY of MICHIGAN Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin