By Dori Cranmore RN
Most people only think of pumpkin seeds in the fall for the holidays, but I’m going to share that these seeds can be eaten year round offering health enhancing and disease fighting compounds.
Pumpkins and their seeds, known as pepitas, belong to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. The United States is currently one of the largest producer of pumpkins along with China, Russia, and Mexico. They are a rich source of magnesium, tryptophan, manganese, phosphorous, copper, protein, zinc and iron. In addition they are packed with tryptophan, lignans and essential fatty acids.
Their benefits seem unending.
• Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, which can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis. Researchers believe one possible mechanism for magnesium’s beneficial effects is its ability to promote a more alkaline environment inside bones, which has shown to be conducive to boosting bone mineral density.
• The seeds are noticeable in their ability to effectively treat an overactive bladder. Nobody likes that involuntary leaking or frequent trips to the toilet.
• The seeds might provide relief for men with urinary symptoms from benign prostatic hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate.
• Several cardiovascular disease factors respond to pumpkin seeds. Studies show an increase in the HDL cholesterol and a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL. Amazing studies also show that the pumpkin seed oil was extremely effective in reversing elevated blood pressure by restoring nitric oxide levels.
• As a powerful antioxidant, pumpkin seed oil’s properties might ease inflammation associated with arthritic symptoms.
• Tryptophan, an amino acid abundant in pumpkin seeds, might help alleviate anxiety. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enhances mood and promotes well-being in the brain.
• Recent studies have shown that the pumpkin seeds, seed extract and seed oil can improve insulin regulation in diabetic animals by decreasing the oxidative stress and to prevent some unwanted consequences of diabetes on kidney function.
• The pumpkin seeds are unique in their composition of antioxidant nutrients, which helps decrease cancer risk. Breast and prostate cancer have been the focus of research because of the role lignans play and the high content in pumpkin seeds.
In summary, pumpkin seeds have a remarkable assortment of health-enhancing nutrients, from magnesium, protein, niacin, and zinc, to its high concentration of tryptophan and essential fatty acids, pumpkin seeds provide a powerful health punch that offers protection against common health problems including cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. It also provides powerful relief for people suffering from bladder dysfunction, anxiety, and arthritis. While pumpkin seeds are synonymous with Halloween, consider incorporating these nutritional gems into your diet on a regular basis to reap their broad-spectrum health benefits.
WAYS TO ENJOY PUMPKIN SEEDS
1. For roasted pumpkin seeds, bake them in the oven at 160 to 170°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Add pumpkin seeds to soups, stew, and meatloaf.
3. Sprinkle them on top of salads, cereals, and yogurt.
4. Eat them raw as a snack.