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    Mayo Clinic Minute: The perks of pumpkin in your diet

While pumpkin is an annual favorite of fall, there's a reason to make pumpkin a regular part of your meals.

"Most of us think of pumpkin as a flavoring for our coffee or pumpkin pie, where, in reality, pumpkin can offer a great amount of vitamins and nutrients," says Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian.

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As side dishes go, Guys says pumpkin may be a better pick than sweet potatoes.

"One cup of cubed pumpkin provides 30 calories and less than 1 gram of fat; whereas, the same serving of sweet potato would offer triple the amount of calories," Guy explains.

She says pumpkin is a great source of fiber, iron and potassium. It’s also a versatile, healthy substitute for recipes.

“It can be used instead of butter or oil in baking recipes," Guy adds. "It could be cubed into soups or stews. You can even puree it into pancake mixtures. My personal favorite would be to use pureed pumpkin in my Greek yogurt for breakfast.”

Guys cautions, if you get your puree in a can, make sure it’s nothing but pumpkin.

“Look for 100 percent pure pumpkin puree without any added sugar," says Guy. "It’s great.”