If you want to lose weight, you’ve got plenty of diets to choose from. Paleo is based on eating nothing but naturally occurring foods, just like our hunter/gather ancestors used to do. That’s why it’s sometimes called the caveman diet. Intermittent fasting is all about skipping meals, while meal replacement diets involve drinking low-calorie snacks in place of eating solids.
The truth is that all diets work in much the same way; they reduce the number of calories you eat to create a negative energy balance. When you go overdrawn at the calorie bank, your body has no choice but to start burning fat to make up the energy shortfall. The bigger the deficit, the faster you’ll lose weight.
Keto works the same way, but there’s a twist. As well as cutting the number of calories you eat, keto all but bans carbs, which turns fat burning up to the max. On keto, your meals contain lots of protein and fat, which are particularly satiating.
You can’t eat bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes on keto, and a lot of fruit is off the menu too. So, where does that leave pumpkin, and is pumpkin keto? In this article, we’ll explain if you can eat pumpkin on keto and reveal some of its health benefits.
Is Pumpkin Keto?
What Are Pumpkins?
A pumpkin is a type of winter squash from the same botanical family as cucumbers and melons.
Pumpkins are actually a type of fruit but are nutritionally similar to many vegetables.
Most pumpkins are large, round, and yellow/orange, although size, shape, and color vary between varieties.
Pumpkin varieties include:
- Pie pumpkins
- Miniature pumpkins
- White pumpkins
- Giant pumpkins
All pumpkin varieties have a thick outer skin, which is inedible, and their flesh is stringy. Pumpkins have lots of seeds in the center, which are also edible. Pumpkins are sold fresh, but many people prefer canned pumpkins, so they don’t have to deal with scooping out the flesh, picking out the seeds, and disposing of the inedible rind.
There are savory and sweet pumpkin recipes, and it’s something of an autumnal staple. In Canada and the US, pumpkin is baked into pies at Thanksgiving and carved to make scary lanterns at Halloween.
Pumpkins are a very nutritious fruit. One cup of cooked contains
- 49 calories
- 2 grams of protein
- 0.5 grams of fat
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 9 grams of net (useable) carbs
Despite being low in calories, pumpkin contains a lot of vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Pumpkins are also high in antioxidants, including lycopene, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
Pumpkins are incredibly nutritious, which means they’re very good for your health. The benefits of eating pumpkins include:
Antioxidant protection – the antioxidants in pumpkin can help neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells and DNA. Free radicals are unstable molecules formed by oxygen and pollution. Free radicals are a leading cause of chronic disease, including cancer.
Better immunity – stress, a poor diet, and sedentarism can all reduce your immunity against illnesses, such as the common cold.
Pumpkin contains several immunity-boosting compounds, including vitamins A, C, and E.
Better eyesight – eyesight tends to diminish with age. Research suggests that vitamin A, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, can help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Lower risk of cancer – the antioxidants in pumpkin are known cancer fighters. Alpha and beta-carotene are especially potent. Higher intakes of carotenoids are linked to a lower risk for throat, pancreatic, and breast cancers.
Improved heart health – the fiber and antioxidants in pumpkins can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, lowering heart attack and stroke risk. The high potassium content may also help reduce blood pressure.
Better digestive health – like most fruits and vegetables, pumpkin is high in fiber, and fiber is good for your digestive system. It adds bulk to your feces and reduces transit time, which means a lower risk of constipation, diverticular disease, and colorectal cancer.
Is Pumpkin Keto?
Despite being a fruit, pumpkins are remarkably low in sugar, carbs, and calories. As such, they’re very keto-compatible.
However, you’ll still need to measure how much pumpkin you eat because they aren’t entirely carb-free. One cup of cooked contains nine grams of net carbs.
That’s not a lot, but it could still tip you over your daily carb allocation if there are other carbohydrate sources in your diet.
Also, take care if you choose canned pumpkin, as some varieties have added sugar and are higher in carbs. Check the nutrition label before using.
Fruit is a contentious issue on keto. Many fruits are off the menu because they contain a lot of sugar, which is a source of carbs. Bananas, apples, and oranges are all quite keto-unfriendly.
However, you can eat avocados and coconut on keto because they contain more fat than carbs. Berries are also okay on keto, as they’re low in sugar. Now you can add pumpkin to your list of keto-compatible fruits. Not only are they low in carbs and calories, but they’re also very versatile, and you can use them for both sweet and savory dishes.
Pumpkins are also incredibly nutritious, and eating them should do you nothing but good!