You may be fond of many seeds, but pumpkin seeds are truly a precious gift of our Mother Nature.
Both nuts and seeds make a very healthy and balanced diet. Pumpkin seeds are said to be dietary powerhouses as they contain good amounts of essential minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
About pumpkin seeds
Pepita (from Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, “little seed of squash”) is a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed, the edible seed of a pumpkin or other cultivar of squash. The seeds are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval, and light green in color and may have a white outer hull.
According to the USDA nutritional database, this is how 1 cup of pumpkin seeds stacks up nutrition-wise (other sources proffer them with even higher positive numbers, but we are sticking with the more-conservative USDA data):
- 285 calories
- 11.87 grams protein
- 12.42 g fat
- 11.8 g dietary fiber
See all that protein? You need that! Although plant-based protein differs from animal-based one, it is just as important and pumpkin seeds are a great way to boost your protein intake without resorting to meals that contain red meat. The fiber is a great bonus too. And while the fat content looks high, it is predominantly the “healthy fats” that many of us do not get enough of.
Pumpkin seeds have the power to alter disease-producing processes in the body since they contain plant compounds called phytosterols and various antioxidants which reduce blood cholesterol level, enhance immunity response, and decrease the risk of certain types of cancers.
Health benefits associated with eating pumpkin seeds
You know what it means when the weather turns cool and the leaves start to change, right? It means make way for the pumpkin riot. Market produce bins are like exploding cornucopia spewing orange squash, windows everywhere host dancing paper pumpkins, and pumpkin flavor has invaded just about anything that you can chew in your mouth!
And of course, the annual rite of carving pumpkins has kitchens across the country being littered with pumpkin innards. But with all this pumpkin reverie, we often overlook one of the best parts about the seasonal squash: the seeds!
If you make a habit of not wasting food or if you happen to love pumpkin seeds already, chances are you roast them. But if you are one of the many who toss the seeds, may we suggest that you reconsider this very bad habit?
1. Pumpkin seeds can cure cancer:
Bright red color of the pumpkin shows the presence of beta-carotene which is a powerful immune-stimulant that activates the immune system. Studies have shown that beta-carotene gives strong power to our body to fight cancer. It also prevents DNA damage, and produces enzymes that remove the substances responsible for cancer onset.
Pumpkin seeds have been a traditional medicine for prostate cancer in many countries across the world. The elements in pumpkin seeds that help in preventing prostate cancer development are the phytosterols , the mineral zinc and the essential fatty acids. Research suggests that pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be beneficial for supporting prostate health as well as for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). They also offer chemicals that may prevent some transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with enlarged prostate.
2. Pumpkin seeds prevent and fight diabetes:
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health problems in the world. Pumpkin seeds contain large amounts of nicotinic acid, trigonelline and D-chiro-inositol. It has been proven that nicotinic acid and D-chiro-inositol control blood sugar, and D-chiro-inositol prevents the diabetes onset as well. If you want to get even more benefits just eat raw pumpkin seeds.
3. Pumpkin seeds sharpen eyesight:
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which has been proven to improve human vision.
American Optometric Association found that people with impaired vision and cataracts are often deficient in zinc. Zinc enables vitamin A to travel from your liver to your retina to create melanin, a pigment that protects the eyes. Zinc deficiency can lead to an infection in any part of the body, including the eyes.
4. Pumpkin seeds boost your magnesium:
That same cup of roasted pumpkin seeds also boasts 168 milligrams of magnesium, more than half of the 310 mg adult women should consume daily. The body needs magnesium for many processes, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure, plus making protein, bone and DNA. The National Institute of Health (NIH) notes that people in the United States consistently have intakes of magnesium that are lower than recommended amounts.
5. Pumpkin seeds pump up your potassium:
The body likes potassium for “jobs” such as helping muscles contract, regulating fluids, balancing minerals and maintaining blood pressure. It may also help reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and bone loss as the body ages. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science recommends that adults consume at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day, which is twice as much as most people get. Pumpkin seeds are a notably rich source of this important mineral with 588 mg per cup. Compare that to the famous potassium source known as a banana: a medium one provides only 422 mg!
6. Pumpkin seeds bolster your immunity:
There is a reason why treatments to prevent and suppress the common cold generally contain zinc. It is an important mineral that plays a significant role in immune function. The National Institutes of Health recommends 8 mg of zinc daily for adult women, and a cup of pumpkin seeds will almost meet that need with its 6.59 mg.
7. Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of antioxidants:
Pumpkin seeds are unique in their antioxidant abundance. The seeds contain numerous forms of vitamin E, as well as the phenolic acids: hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic and syringic acid. Antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans are also found in pumpkin seeds, including these lignans: pinoresinol, medioresinol and lariciresinol. Importantly, “this diverse mixture of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds may provide them with antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in food.” They are so special, aren’t they?
8. Finally pumpkin seeds make you happy:
The L-tryptophan in pumpkin seeds can improve the mood naturally and may even be effective against depression. (Can’t hurt to try that!) Meanwhile, The Times of India proposes eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before going to bed for the L-tryptophan (which is used in melatonin and serotonin production) to help encourage a good night’s sleep!
So, from fighting cancer and diabetes, boosting immunity … to helping ensure good sleep, pumpkin seeds offer many potential perks. Just find yours and be happy with it!