As the weather begins to cool and you see leaves on trees change from green to brown, you’re also likely to see pumpkins taking over shops, doorsteps, and farmer’s markets. Whether it’s for carving jack-o-lanterns, baking pumpkin pie or roasting pumpkin seeds, there’s a variety of uses for this orange staple of autumn! But what exactly are pumpkins, anyway? Are they a fruit, vegetable, or something else entirely?

Botanically speaking, fruits are classified as the edible portion of a plant that develops from a flower, and also contains seeds. This includes what we typically think of as fruit such as apples, strawberries, and pears, but also includes foods such as tomatoes and cucumbers!

On the other hand, vegetables are any edible portion of plants, such as leaves, stems, bulbs and roots — think lettuce, asparagus and carrots. By definition, a fruit can be a vegetable, but a vegetable cannot be a fruit.

Pumpkin is a Fruit

Since pumpkins develop from the flowering part of a pumpkin vine, and also contain seeds, they are, in fact, a fruit! In addition to being a fruit, pumpkins also fall into the category of gourds and squash. While pumpkins, gourds and squash are considered to be fruit from a scientific standpoint, people within the culinary world will often still refer to them as vegetables because they are not sweet.

carving pumpkins, pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin Nutrition

While pumpkins serve as festive decor for fall, they have more benefits than meets the eye! They are extremely nutrient-dense, containing high levels of vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. Just one cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A!

Pumpkin seeds have a variety of health benefits on their own too. They are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which aids in the creation of serotonin (AKA the chemical in our brain that regulates mood and keeps us happy). Pumpkin seeds also contain phytosterols, which are a plant-based chemical that has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol.

Other health benefits of pumpkins include high levels of potassium to help restore the body’s electrolyte balance, vitamin C to keep your immune system strong and fiber to help you feel fuller longer!

pumpkin seeds in a bowl

Pumpkin Crafts and Recipes

There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkins this fall! Of course, a Pumpkin Spice Latte and pumpkin brownie is a must!

pumpkin spice dessert and drink

Crafts

Recipes

Whether you use pumpkins for a sweet or savory dish, or just as Halloween decor, there are so many ways to enjoy this fall-favorite fruit! Might we suggest the chocolate covered brownie form?

 

Sources

Healthline | Real Simple | Huffington Post | Good Housekeeping