Every autumn brings an influx of all things pumpkin: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pastries, and the Thanksgiving classic, pumpkin pie.

But as much as we love those pumpkin treats, we often forget that pumpkin is first and foremost a vegetable. And one with lots of nutritional benefits! Here are five reasons to start cooking more veggie dishes with pumpkin.

It’s Full of Vitamins

Pumpkin has both Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Vitamin A is excellent for optical health while Vitamin C helps with immunity. A cup of pureed pumpkin has more than 200% of your daily intake of Vitamin A and about 19% of your daily Vitamin C.

It Has Antioxidants

Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that’s not only good for eyes, skin, and immunity, but has also been linked to cancer prevention and may help protect against heart disease.

It’s Loaded With Fiber

With over 7 grams of fiber in a cup of canned pumpkin, it’s an excellent source of fiber (which most American are sorely lacking in their diet). Fiber makes for smoother digestion and helps with weight loss as it keeps you fuller for longer.

It’s Got Potassium

While bananas may be a more famous source of potassium, pumpkin actually has more, with about 564 mg in a cup of cooked pumpkin. Potassium lowers blood pressure, making it great for cardiovascular health.

It’s Low in Fat and Calories

Packed with nutrients? Yes. But calories? Absolutely not! A cup of cooked pumpkin has about 49 calories. If you’re aiming to lose weight, consider using pumpkin more as a base for soups, chili, or smoothies!

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