Pumpkin Versus Potatoes — Calories, Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Many people only eat pumpkin at Thanksgiving in sugary pumpkin pies. What a waste.
Pumpkins and winter squash are some of the healthiest of all vegetables and rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Not only do they taste great, pumpkins are low in calories yet surprisingly filling.
Here’s why it’s worth replacing fattening potatoes with healthier pumpkin on your dinner plate. Your body will thank you for it.
Pumpkin Nutritional Properties Versus Potatoes
Pumpkins and winter squash are an excellent source of dietary fiber to help out your hard-working digestive system.
They are great for relieving constipation and eating a lunch or dinner with lots of pumpkin in it will be a much healthier option than harsh laxatives.
Potatoes with their skin on are also a good source of fiber. Unfortunately, being the most commonly processed of all vegetables, they are rarely eaten in their natural state these days.
100 grams of white potatoes have 93 calories according to nutritional databases. More importantly, this study found potato product consumption to be one of the highest markers for weight gain and obesity.
There’s a misconception that pumpkins are fattening but this is incorrect. Despite their rich taste they are a low calorie food with 100 grams having only 20 calories.
Even with such a low calories this vegetable is surprisingly filling, making it a great addition to the diet of anyone wanting to lose weight.
Most health resources list pumpkins as high in vitamin A. A better description would be potential vitamin A.
The carotenoids they contain can convert to vitamin A if you are low in it. Why shortchange yourself on these beneficial antioxidants though by not getting enough vitamin A in your diet?
Fresh liver is rich in vitamin A, but if like me you’re not a fan, then cod liver oil is a great source. Not just for vitamin A either but also vitamin D and the important omega-3s EPA and DHA.
Pumpkin also has B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and folate. Along with good levels of vitamin C, some vitamin E and the often difficult to get vitamin K.
Potatoes, by comparison, only have useful levels of B vitamins if you eat them with the skin on. As well as vitamin C if they are steamed, rather than boiled or fried which destroys this heat sensitive nutrient.
In mineral nutrition, pumpkins have potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. They are also a source of iron and copper for healthy hair.
Potatoes have good levels of potassium, manganese, magnesium and copper when steamed, the healthiest way to eat them.
Like all vegetables, the mineral content in your pumpkins or potatoes will vary depending on the soils they are grown in. This alone, aside from any concerns about pesticides, is a good reason to get them organic if you can find them.
Organic produce is usually grown in less intensely farmed and depleted soils which leads to more mineral rich veggies on your dinner plate.
The concentrated nutrition in raw pumpkin seeds is an even better source of minerals and it’s worth a quick read about just how healthy this superfood snack is.
High in Antioxidants
Pumpkins are full to bursting with antioxidant carotenoids for protecting your body’s cells from free radical damage. If you’re looking to increase your intake of antioxidants, potatoes really pale in comparison to pumpkin.
Most people have heard of beta-carotene and their rich orange color is a clue that pumpkins have good quantities of it. They are also one of the best sources of alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, considered even more powerful antioxidants.
The eye antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in fresh pumpkin and winter squash. The macular area of your eyes are where these pair of carotenoids are concentrated.
At good levels they can protect your vision from damaging UV and high-intensity blue light. However, when dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is consistently low, side effects can include eyestrain and deteriorating vision.
Getting plenty of these two carotenoids in your diet can reduce your risk of developing both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (the primary cause of blindness in America).
Potatoes are not considered a good source of carotenoids or other antioxidants. Look to get more colorful vegetables onto your dinner plate to increase your antioxidant intake.
Pumpkins or Potatoes: The Verdict
Pumpkins are a more nutritious food than potatoes in just about every way and they make a great replacement for boiled, roasted or mashed potatoes on your dinner plate.
They are significantly higher in fiber than potatoes yet much lower in calories. Pumpkins also have more vitamins, minerals and especially antioxidants.
While eating too many potatoes can be fattening, regularly enjoying meals with pumpkin can help you lose weight and improve your overall health and wellbeing. It’s a simple change but a valuable one.
Next is a look at the best way to cook pumpkin and a simple and healthier way to prepare them and retain the most nutrition.