Adding healthy snacks on your daily menu and in your kids’ lunchbox is one of the best thing that you can do for yourself and the ones you love. Seeds and nuts are a rich source of various nutrients, minerals and vitamins and they can provide short-term boost of energy and long-term effects for your health.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are rarely added to this list of healthy snacks, but this doesn’t mean that they are not useful. On the contrary, they have great amount of mineral and vitamins and relatively low amount of calories – about 28 calories per cup. They are rich in magnesium, iron, calcium and many other nutrients that contribute to better health and wellbeing.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
This is a list of some of the most important health benefits of pumpkin seeds:
1. Pumpkin seeds can eliminate inflammation
These seeds have strong antioxidant properties and on top of that they contain some compounds that can significantly reduce or even eliminate the inflammatory chemicals found in the body.
A recent study published in the reputable Scientific World magazine, confirmed that people who have taken about 30 g of mixed seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds) have significantly improved triglyceride levels and reduced IL6 levels. You can use these seeds as a topping for side dishes or salads.
2. Pumpkin seeds improve the immune system
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc which makes them one of the best natural foods for improving the immune system.
3. Pumpkin seeds prevent and fight diabetes
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health problems in the world. Pumpkin seeds have large amounts of Nicotinic acid, Trigonelline and D-chiro-inositol. It was scientifically proven that these ingredients help the system balance and control blood sugar. Pumpkin seeds should be consumed raw in order to get the most of them.
4. Pumpkin seeds are strong antioxidants
Besides the presence of zinc in pumpkin seeds (zinc is a great antioxidant), these seeds have another strong antioxidant – vitamin E.
5. Pumpkin seeds promote cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol levels
These seeds are packed with phytoestrogens, compounds that have the ability to regulate cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that scientist are still divided over the role of cholesterol in our body. A study that was first published in the Phytotherapy Research, has shown that taking pumpkin seed oil can help people balance blood pressure and blood lipid levels. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium which is one of the most important substances for our heart health. You can find many supplements based on pumpkin seed oil.
6. Pumpkin seeds have anti-carcinogenic properties
As we have mentioned before, pumpkin seeds come with a significant amount of cucurbitacins. These compounds have been proven to induce cancer cell death, containing potent anti-cancer properties. They can definitely be useful in cancer treatment.
7. Pumpkin seeds are good for the vision
Vitamin E, vitamin A, lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin are some of the ingredients that we can find in pumpkin seeds and all of these ingredients are good for the vision. Vitamin A and zinc are crucial for the proper production of melanin, a compound naturally produced in our body for the protection of eye health.
8. Pumpkin seeds improve your sleep
Compounds like L-tryptophan and tryptophan are vital for supporting quality sleep and improving mental health. Only 100 grams of pumpkin seeds have an incredible amount of 576 mg of tryptophan. In addition, these seeds are a great source of several B vitamins.
9. Pumpkin seeds are good for the health of the prostate glands
Many nutritionists often recommend pumpkin seeds to men of all ages because they have proven to be very beneficial for the proper maintenance of prostate health. Several studies have confirmed that pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, are packed with zinc which is crucial for the proper functioning of prostate gland and supports the treatment of enlarged prostate also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
10. Pumpkin seeds prevent depression
This is another disorder that is rapidly growing among modern people. One of the causes of depression is hormonal imbalance. Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan and amino acid that contributes to the production of serotonin. For those who don’t know, serotonin is a hormone that plays crucial role in behavior regulation and provides positive effects on mood, sleep and appetite.
What is the Best Way to Consume Pumpkin Seeds?
The best way to eat pumpkin seeds is in their natural raw form. In this way you can be sure that the healthy fats found in them are preserved. If you are buying pumpkin seeds, always check whether they have this fresh smell that can be recognized easily. Raw organic pumpkin seeds should be your first choice because they were not treated with any pesticides or similar dangerous chemicals.
It is also good to know that the majority of seeds and nuts contain some antinutrients like phytic acid that can lead to poor bioavailability of the previously mentioned nutrients. Soaking is the best way to eliminate the effects of these inhibitors.
If you want to consume nuts or seeds regularly, you should definitely soak them in water between 7 and 24 hours in order to get rid of phytic acid. If you want to make them more palatable, use your oven on a low heat to dehydrate them. Heat them on a temperature that is not higher than 170 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can also use a specially designed dehydrator. You can easily find these devices on the Internet.
Pumpkin Seeds – RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)
As you can see, pumpkin seeds are a very rich source of minerals. Only one quarter of a cup (equal to three tablespoons), contains about 20% of the recommended daily intake of zinc and up to 50% of the daily recommended intake of manganese and magnesium.