It’s that time of the year again: Carved pumpkins are lighting up doorsteps; roasted pumpkin seeds are perfuming the air; and seasonal specialties like pumpkin spice lattes are tempting you at every turn. Don’t feel too guilty about indulging in these pumpkin-filled treats, though—it turns out pumpkin packs a powerful punch of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
According to Allison Stowell, dietitian at Guiding Stars, pumpkins are chock-full of antioxidants called carotenoids. “Beta carotene can turn into Vitamin A, which is associated with eye health (specifically vision), healthy skin and teeth, and may play a role in reproduction,” says Stowell. Additionally, she says, pumpkins include 15 vitamins and minerals besides Vitamin A, making them a nutritional super food.
RELATED: The Best Pumpkin Dessert Recipes
Luckily, canned pumpkin is just as nutritious as fresh—not to mention twice as convenient. “As long as you use pure pumpkin that isn’t sweetened or altered in any way, you are choosing a healthful alternative to preparing pumpkin yourself! Look for cans that list only ‘pumpkin’ in the ingredient list and you will be fine,” says Stowell. In fact, having canned pumpkin around might make it easier to throw it into oatmeal, yogurt, or batters so you can benefit from its nutritional properties in a pinch.
Ready to reap the nutritional benefits of pumpkin? Use these eight canned pumpkin recipes to get you started on a pumpkin-themed feast.