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Is pumpkin good in diabetes?

Pumpkin is a nutritious vegetable that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It has a low glycemic index, meaning it does not cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. This makes pumpkin a potentially good food choice for people with diabetes.

Nutrition facts of pumpkin

One cup of cooked, cubed pumpkin contains:

  • Calories: 49
  • Carbohydrates: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 245% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 19% of the DV
  • Potassium: 564 milligrams (mg)
  • Copper: 12% of the DV
  • Vitamin B2: 11% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 11% of the DV
  • Vitamin B5: 11% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
  • Zinc: 8% of the DV
  • Iron: 8% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 7% of the DV

As you can see, pumpkin is low in calories and carbohydrates compared to some other starchy vegetables like potatoes. It provides a good amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Glycemic index of pumpkin

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food causes a rise in blood sugar. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0–100.

Low GI foods (GI below 55) cause a gradual rise in blood sugar. Medium GI foods (GI of 56–69) cause a moderate rise. High GI foods (GI 70 or greater) lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar.

Pumpkin has a low glycemic index, ranging from 44–75 depending on the variety. Canned pumpkin has a GI of 75 while most fresh varieties are around 44–65.

For comparison, some other common foods and their GIs include:

Food Glycemic Index
Pumpkin 44-75
Sweet potato 44-96
White potato 56-111
Corn 48-75
Banana 42-62
Watermelon 72-80
Grapes 43-53
Apple 36-44

As you can see, pumpkin has a low to medium GI. This means it will not cause major spikes in blood sugar.

Fiber content

Pumpkin is a good source of fiber, providing 3 grams per cup cooked. Fiber slows digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.

Eating enough fiber is important for people with diabetes. Getting 25-50 grams of fiber per day has been shown to improve blood sugar control.


Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and minerals that are important for people with diabetes, including:

  • Vitamin A: Supports wound healing and eye health. Diabetics are at higher risk for eye problems and impaired wound healing.
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that may help control blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that plays a role in insulin action.
  • Potassium: Helps control blood pressure, which tends to be high in people with diabetes.
  • Magnesium: Involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Many diabetics are deficient in magnesium.


Pumpkin contains carotenoids like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene which have antioxidant effects. Oxidative stress can contribute to diabetes complications.

The antioxidants in pumpkin may help reduce inflammation and protect cells from damage.

Weight control benefits

Keeping weight under control is important for managing diabetes. Pumpkin is low in calories and high in fiber, which can help with weight loss and maintenance.

Replacing high calorie, high carb foods with pumpkin is a good strategy to limit carb and calorie intake.

Possible downsides of pumpkin for diabetics

Although pumpkin has many benefits for people with diabetes, there are a few potential downsides:

  • It contains carbohydrates that will raise blood sugar, although less sharply than many other foods.
  • Canned pumpkin tends to have a higher GI than fresh varieties.
  • Pumpkin pie filling is high in sugar.
  • Large portions will spike blood sugar due to the carbs.

To minimize spikes in blood sugar, diabetics should consume pumpkin in reasonable portions and limit added sugars. Favor lower GI fresh pumpkin when possible.

How to add pumpkin to your diet

Here are some healthy ways to enjoy pumpkin if you have diabetes:

  • Roasted pumpkin cubes as a side dish
  • Pumpkin blended into soups
  • Pumpkin oatmeal made with milk or yogurt
  • Pumpkin baked into muffins or bread
  • Pumpkin mixed into yogurt parfaits
  • Pureed pumpkin in pancakes or waffles

When baking with pumpkin, try using alternative sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit or erythritol instead of sugar. Avoid pumpkin pies and desserts loaded with sugar.


People with diabetes should take the following precautions with pumpkin:

  • Check your blood sugar regularly if trying new pumpkin recipes.
  • Introduce pumpkin slowly to assess your body’s response.
  • Stick to 1/2–1 cup portion sizes to minimize carb intake.
  • Avoid pumpkin pie fillings and other desserts packed with sugar.
  • Talk to your doctor before making major changes to your diet.

The bottom line

Pumpkin is a diabetes-friendly vegetable choice due to its low calorie, high fiber, and low glycemic index properties. It provides ample vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can benefit diabetics.

When consumed in reasonable portions, pumpkin can be a nutritious addition to a diabetic diet. Focus on fresh varieties over canned versions high in sugar. Pair pumpkin with other healthy foods like lean proteins, healthy fats, and non-starchy veggies.

As with any new food, moderation is key. Check your blood sugar levels regularly and discuss any major diet changes with your healthcare provider.