Everyone appreciates ending a meal with a delicious dessert, whether it’s a holiday or just a regular day. What more could anyone ask for other than a savory-sweet slice of pumpkin pie?
That said, despite the tempting flavor, it’s only natural to wonder about the nutritional value of this holiday food. You might be asking, “Is pumpkin pie good for you?”
So in this post, we’ll talk about the nutritional benefits of this dessert, including the ways it could negatively affect your health. Keep reading, and let’s explore pumpkin pies slice by slice!
In What Ways Is It Good for You?
The cooler weather heralds the arrival of the winter months. But for some of us, it means we’re getting closer to the season of celebration and pumpkin pies: Thanksgiving.
If you’re thinking about making pumpkin pie for your Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be glad to know that this holiday treat is high in nutrients. Some of the health benefits of pumpkin pies include:
Pumpkins Help Prevent Chronic Diseases
Your body’s metabolic processes produce byproducts called free radicals. These byproducts are highly reactive and unstable molecules that can harm your cells if left unchecked.
Several studies have linked free radicals to degenerative illnesses, including premature aging. It also causes oxidative stress, increasing the risk of several chronic diseases like dementia.
That said, the pumpkin in your pie slices contains high amounts of antioxidants. It includes carotenoids such as beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and alpha-carotene.
These antioxidants protect your cells from high levels of free radicals that can damage your cells. By protecting your cells, they make your body less susceptible to cancer, specifically lowering the risk of lung and skin cancer.
Pumpkins Help Improve Eye Health
As we age, we may experience decreased bodily functions, like diminishing eyesight. For some of us, it’s a natural part of aging and something they accept as a fact.
Fortunately, a proper diet reduces the risk of developing these eye issues. Your pumpkin pie, for instance, contains essential nutrients that help maintain your eye health.
Pumpkins are a natural source of vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Studies link these compounds to healthy vision and prevent age-related eyesight issues, such as cataracts.
Do you find it difficult to see in low-light conditions? Do your eyes find it difficult to adjust when you enter rooms with no light source on?
This vision impairment is known as “night blindness,” it’s linked to low vitamin A levels in your system—so you might want to have an extra slice of pumpkin pie on your Thanksgiving dinner.
Pumpkins Help Improve Cardiovascular Health
If you’re conscious about your heart health, you might be wary of eating desserts. Pumpkins, however, contain numerous vitamins that can improve your cardiovascular fitness.
This feat is thanks to pumpkins’ potassium content. A cup of cooked pumpkin can contain around 16% of your daily potassium intake requirement.
As you may already know, this mineral helps with your heart functions. Studies have shown that increasing potassium intake can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Apart from the potassium, that slice of pumpkin pie also contains a considerable dose of fiber. This type of carbohydrate helps protect your heart by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels.
The trace amount of calcium and magnesium also reinforces your heart’s muscles. Calcium contributes to your heart’s electrical signals, while magnesium maintains the beating rhythm.
Pumpkins Help Improve Overall Cell Function
B vitamins are crucial nutrients to ensure your cells are correctly functioning. Specifically, they aid your body’s metabolism, blood cell production, and maintaining cell health.
The savory filling of your pumpkin pie contains some of these B vitamins. It has riboflavin for energy production, niacin for nervous system health, and folate for red blood cell production.
Pumpkins Help Improve Immune System
Aside from the carotenoids, the filling in your pumpkin pie is also rich in vitamin A. One serving of pumpkin pie can provide over 67% of your body’s vitamin A requirements.
The abundance of this micronutrient helps improve your body’s immune system. It reinforces the protective mucus in your lungs, gut, eyes, and genitals, which traps and kills bacteria.
Moreover, vitamin A plays a vital role in controlling acne breakouts. Studies revealed that people with vitamin A deficiency are more likely to experience these skin issues.
In What Ways Is It Bad for You?
With the numerous benefits discussed above, it might be hard to imagine that pumpkin pies have unfavorable health effects. Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated than that.
The truth is pie recipes typically include unhealthy ingredients. You should also consider your health before indulging yourself in these desserts.
Here are some of the ways pumpkin pies can bring negative consequences to your health:
Pumpkin Pie Calorie Value
On average, a single serving of pumpkin pie contains around 300 calories. This amount could take 30 to 50 minutes of exercise to burn, depending on the intensity and type of activity.
For the average person, this calorie value might not seem much. However, for people trying to lose or maintain weight, a few hundred more calories can heavily impact their diet.
Inactive people should also watch their calorie intake. Consuming more calories than you burn could lead to obesity and several chronic health issues.
Fat and Cholesterol Content
A Thanksgiving pie isn’t complete without a perfectly crisp crust. But did you know that the crust is the portion of the dessert that typically contains the most unhealthy ingredients?
Pie crusts are usually made from a dough of flour, butter, shortening, and water. These ingredients can contain over 188 grams of fat and a considerable amount of cholesterol.
This amount of fat can exceed the fat intake of people maintaining low-fat diets. The saturated fat content of pie crusts is a must-watch for people with underlying coronary illnesses as well.
Store-Bought vs. Homemade
Store-bought pie products are typically stronger in flavor than homemade pie. And to some, this quality in taste makes these ingredients better than making them from scratch.
The canned pumpkin pie mix, however, contains added sugars and preservatives. Manufacturers do this to control the flavors and extend the shelf life of these products.
Consuming too much of these types of sugar can cause multiple health issues, including weight gain and diabetes. As such, you should carefully consider the ingredients of these products or opt to make the ingredients yourself.
How to Make Pumpkin Pie Healthier
Don’t worry! The nutritional value of pumpkins won’t vanish with the risky ingredients we listed above, and you can still enjoy the health benefits of these fruits.
But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make your recipe healthier either. So, here are some ways to make a healthy Thanksgiving dessert for you and your family:
Reduce Your Sugar Ingredients
As we mentioned earlier, pre-made pie mixes usually contain higher levels of sweetener. So, you might want to choose homemade products if you want to cut some sugar.
Here’s a trick, use pure maple syrup instead of granulated sugar or corn syrup. It’s a healthier alternative as it contains high amounts of nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, and potassium.
Reduce Saturated Fat Content
Dairy products have saturated milk. As such, if you want a healthier recipe, try to avoid using these ingredients for your Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
An excellent alternative to regular milk is almond milk. These products are primarily made of water, so they contain fewer calories with no saturated fat.
The holiday seasons bring challenges of their own. One of these tasks includes making delicious holiday recipes without throwing health and fitness out the window.
Desserts, like pumpkin pies, aren’t safe from scrutiny either. Regardless of the numerous health benefits of these holiday treats, moderation is still the key!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.