Consumer Reports

What's Actually Inside Canned ‘Pumpkin'

Consumer Reports looked at the core ingredient in so many fall dishes

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So many of those yummy fall recipes for pumpkin bread, muffins, cookies and, of course, pumpkin pie depend on that little can of "pumpkin."

It might sound like a silly question, but do you really know what’s in the can? When the label says “pumpkin,” you probably expect that to be what’s inside. But instead, it’s more likely to be a variety of squash. Even if the can says 100% pumpkin, it’s probably a mix of pumpkin and golden squash, which is actually denser and sweeter. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed it to be called “pumpkin” since 1938.

You probably can’t tell the difference because of the spices you add to your recipes -- like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves -- that give your baked goods that delicious “pumpkin spice” flavor.

And enjoying pumpkin is a good thing! Whether it’s fresh or canned, pumpkin and squash are superhealthy. They’re rich in antioxidants, and one cup has as much Vitamin A as you need in a day, or more.

Also, don’t feel bad about choosing canned pumpkin over fresh. A cup of canned "pumpkin" has twice as much fiber as fresh pumpkin, and is loaded with iron and carotenoids.

But don’t confuse canned pumpkin with pumpkin pie mix! The mix can have about 48 grams of added sugars per cup.

And you don’t have to have dessert to get your pumpkin fix. Pumpkin can be a great addition to your morning smoothie. Drop in a few tablespoons with some Greek yogurt, a banana, a little milk and some cinnamon. It’s a healthy and delicious start to the day.

Maybe “squash pie” doesn’t have the same appetizing ring as pumpkin pie. Well, now you have something to talk to your family about over Thanksgiving dessert!

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