I've heard that canned pumpkin is healthier than fresh pumpkin. Is that true?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Not necessarily. Fresh foods generally have a higher nutrient content than do cooked or canned foods. But in this case, both fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin are packed with nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin A and iron.

If you want to use fresh pumpkin, look for pumpkins without blemishes that are firm and heavy for their size. Whole pumpkins can be stored in a cool dark place for up to two months. If you use fresh pumpkin for bread, soup, pie or other recipes, don't throw away the seeds. You can bake them for a wholesome, crispy snack.

If you're looking for convenience, canned pumpkin without salt is a healthy alternative. Just check the Nutrition Facts label on the can so that you know what you're getting. Canned pumpkin products may be labeled as "pumpkin," "100 percent pumpkin" or "pumpkin pie mix." Canned pumpkin pie mix — which some recipes call for — can be much higher in calories than regular canned pumpkin.

Nov. 06, 2014