Seeds and Cereals

Pumpkin Seed Health Benefits

The pumpkin seeds are an edible portion of the fruit typically baked for consumption. They are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, often considered a healthy snack.

Pumpkin seeds are also known as nuggets, the Spanish meaning for “small pumpkin seed”.

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all types has been associated with reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.

Studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods such as pumpkin seeds lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality by promoting healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower overall weight.

PUMPKIN SEED BENEFITS

Pumpkin seeds are exceptionally rich in magnesium, one of the seven essential macro minerals. Two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds contain 74 milligrams of magnesium, about 25% of the recommended daily diet.

Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including food metabolism and fatty acid and protein synthesis. Magnesium is vital for proper muscle function.

Magnesium deficiency, especially prevalent in older populations, is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis.

  • Bone Health – Magnesium is important for bone formation. High magnesium intake is related to greater bone density and has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women;
  • Diabetes – For every 100 milligrams/day of increased magnesium intake, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15%. Low levels of magnesium can impair insulin secretion and decrease insulin sensitivity;
  • Heart Health – Improvement in lipid profiles was seen with an intake of 365 milligrams of magnesium per day;
  • Heart and Liver Health – Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. This combination has benefits for both the heart and the liver. The fiber in pumpkin seeds helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and lower the risk of heart disease. Research to date suggests that omega-3s may lower the risk of thrombosis and arrhythmias, which lead to heart attacks, strokes and sudden cardiac death.
  • Insomnia Prevention – Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid. Tryptophan has been used to treat chronic insomnia because the body converts it into serotonin, the “feel good” or “relaxing” hormone, and melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating a few pumpkin seeds before bed, with a small amount of carbohydrates, such as a piece of fruit, can be beneficial in providing your body with the tryptophan needed for melatonin production;
  • Pregnancy – It is estimated that more than 80% of women worldwide have inadequate zinc intake. Low levels of zinc alter the circulating levels of multiple hormones associated with the onset of labor. Additionally, zinc is essential for normal immune function and prevention of uterine infections. All of this could potentially contribute to preterm birth;

PUMPKIN SEED PROPERTIES

Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they are packed with valuable nutrients.

Durable creeping herb of the Cucurbitaceae Gourd family up to 10m.

Pumpkin seeds, also known as nuggets, are flat, dark green seeds. Some are in the core, with white and yellow husks, although some varieties of squash produce shellless seeds.

Pumpkin seeds have a malleable, chewy texture and a subtle nutty flavor. They are probably best known for roasts, so delicious and nutritious that they can be enjoyed all year round.

Like melon and cucumber, squashes and pumpkin seeds belong to the family of the gourd or Cucurbitaceae. The most common genus is the species Cucurbita maxima.

Pumpkin has been cultivated for so long that its wild form no longer exists and its place of origin is uncertain. If native to Asia, it was introduced to the Americas in prehistoric times.

Pumpkin, corn, and beans were the main fruits and vegetables cultivated by pre-Columbian Americans. The fruit was among the symbols of the first thanksgiving celebration of North American pilgrims.

Approximately 2 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds (28 grams) contains:

  • 125 calories;
  • 15 grams of carbohydrates (including 0 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fiber);
  • 5 grams of protein;
  • 5% of your daily iron requirements;

Roasted pumpkin seeds are more nutrient dense, for the same 28 gram serving they provide:

  • 163 calories;
  • 4 grams of carbohydrate (including 2 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of sugar);
  • 8 grams of protein;
  • 8% of daily iron requirements;

Pumpkin seeds are also a source of magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium. Pumpkin seed oil contains many other nutrients that have been shown to provide health benefits.

HOW TO CONSUME PUMPKIN SEED

Many people wonder what pumpkin seeds are used for in cooking, in addition to eating them baked. Obviously, in this way they are a succulent snack, but it is possible to vary and enhance other dishes.

Try to do:

  • Pumpkin seed salads;
  • Homemade granola with a mixture of nuts, pumpkin seeds and nuts;
  • Mix pumpkin seeds and olive oil, season with cumin and garlic powder, then bake as a layer of toast;
  • Pumpkin Seed Butter, mixing whole, raw pumpkin seeds in a food processor until smooth;

Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered professionals.

PUMPKIN SEED RISKS AND PRECAUTIONS

Seeds have a high fat content, so they are prone to rancidity. Keep pumpkin seeds in a cool, dark, dry place to improve shelf life. If stored correctly, pumpkin seeds can be kept for 3 to 4 months.

It is the total diet or general pattern of eating that is critical to preventing disease and achieving good health. It’s better to eat a varied diet than to focus on certain foods as the key to healthy living.

PUMPKIN SEED OIL

Extracting pumpkin seed oil is a complicated process. It involves roasting the seeds at an ideal temperature. This ensures that none of the important fatty acids are damaged during heating. After roasting, the pumpkin seeds are placed in a press, allowing the oil to be extracted from the seeds.

Pumpkin seed oil helps promote urinary health and heart health. It’s full of vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, along with linoleic acid and oleic acid.

Here’s what you need to know about the potential health benefits for those ingesting pumpkin seed oil.

  • Mental Health Effects – Traditionally, pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds in general are used to boost mood and prevent depression.
  • Effects on hair and skin – Pumpkin seed oil has been linked to positive effects on hair growth, especially in men. One study found that men who ingested 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil every day for 24 weeks had 40% more hair growth than men in the placebo group.
  • Heart Health Effects – Saturated fats are not good for healthy hearts. But knowing which fats are right to eat can still be confusing. Pumpkin seed oil is actually an unsaturated fat, meaning it is the “good” type of fat. Unsaturated fats like pumpkin seed oil can really promote a healthy heart.
  • Effects on Prostate Health – Pumpkin seed oil, along with palm heart oil, has shown promising results as an alternative therapy for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). BPH is a common condition where the prostate gets bigger. This can be extremely painful and block the flow of urine.
  • Urinary Health Effects – In general, pumpkin seed oil appears to have a positive effect on the urinary tract. This tract is made up of the kidneys, bladder and urethra, which connect the bladder with the urinary opening.
  • Menopause Effects – Pumpkin seed oil has been used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause. This resulted in a decrease in hot flashes, joint pain and headaches. Women who took pumpkin seed oil also had increased levels of HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol.

HOW TO CONSUME PUMPKIN SEED OIL

Like flax seed, pumpkin seed oil can be taken as a liquid pill or concentrate. It can be purchased at health stores or through an online retailer.

Most of the time, people take pumpkin seed oil in pill form. This is usually because it’s more convenient and easier to swallow. It is commonly sold in measured capsules, but you can find it in different doses.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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