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Consumer Reports: What's really in canned pumpkin?

Posted at 8:52 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 09:52:24-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A lot of people like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but is it really pumpkin that you're eating? Consumer Reports has discovered that it could be something else.

When the label says “pumpkin” you probably expect that's what’s inside. But it’s more likely to contain a variety of squash instead.

“Even if the can says 100% pumpkin it’s probably a mix of pumpkin and other golden squash, which is actually denser and sweeter. The FDA has allowed it to be called 'pumpkin' since 1938,” said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health and Food Editor.

Honestly, you probably can’t tell the difference because it’s the spices you add, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, that give your baked goods that delicious pumpkin spice flavor.

“Whether it’s fresh or canned, pumpkin and squash are super healthy. They're rich in antioxidants, and one cup has as much vitamin A as you need in a day, or more,” said Calvo.

So, don't feel bad about choosing canned pumpkin over fresh. A cup of canned has twice as much fiber as fresh pumpkin and is loaded with iron and carotenoids. But whatever you do, don’t confuse canned pumpkin with pumpkin pie mix. Pumpkin pie 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,” said Calvo.

Pumpkin cookies are also easy to make. Just mix one can of pumpkin, a box of spice cake mix, and a bag of white chocolate chips. Drop the spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes.