Looking for a snack that can double as a healthy treat? Pumpkin seeds are your best bet!
These edible seeds are rich in essential nutrients, containing high amounts of magnesium, protein, manganese, and zinc.
They are prized for their nutritional value and ability to give your health an extra boost! Pumpkin seeds also contain high fiber content, helping you meet the optimal amount of fiber intake at 14 grams per 1,000 calories.
But do you know how you can savor the pumpkin seeds benefits in your regular nutrition? Find out in this article how it can boost your health, and how to use pumpkin seeds in your nutritious diet!
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin and its seeds are a part of the Cucurbitaceae or the gourd family, along with cucumbers, squashes, and melons.
Also called “pepitas”, pumpkin seeds are encased in “shells” that are either dark green or yellow-white in color. Other varieties, however, come without shells.
Their texture is chewy, and their flavor is nutty and subtly sweet. And luckily, you can munch on these delicious treats anytime throughout the year!
Pumpkin seeds are available in several food markets and you can choose from its many variants.
Pumpkin Seeds: Fun Facts
The green pumpkin seeds are the white pumpkin seeds’ naked version.
Every continent cultivates pumpkins except Antarctica, which makes sense since it’s an ice-covered landmass.
The pumpkin pie spice isn’t made of pumpkin. It’s actually a combination of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice or ginger. The blend is just commonly associated with the smell and taste of pumpkin.
There are 1.5 million pounds of pumpkin produced in the United States every year. The leading pumpkin producers are California, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
What are the Uses of Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkins are commonly cultivated to produce food for humans and feed for livestock.
In South America and Europe, pumpkins are interchangeably used with squashes as a vegetable. Although botanically speaking, pumpkins are fruits!
Americans and Canadians traditionally make pumpkin pies during special occasions such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. But aside from being food, pumpkins are used as decorations, too!
In other places, pumpkins are used to grace annual traditions like Halloween. Popularly known as “jack-o’-lanterns”, pumpkins are cleaned out from the inside, and their walls are carved with a face.
Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, can be consumed as a nutritious snack when roasted. Pumpkin seeds and oil are also used to produce medicines and prevent and cure certain health conditions.
Since pumpkin seeds contain certain chemicals that promote a diuretic effect (urination), they help ease prostate and bladder discomfort.
Pumpkin seeds are also used to reduce the risk of prostate inflammation as they also contain chemicals that help prevent this. And until today, pumpkin seeds are still used to treat intestinal worms.
What are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?
While they may appear small, pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy oils and other essential nutrients that help promote heart and bone health among others.
Generally speaking, seeds are packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Also, plant seeds are rich in antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), making pumpkin seeds a nutrient-dense to-go snack!
According to researchers, the fatty acid profile of seeds, legumes, and grains are “favorable”.
So, how exactly can the minerals and nutrients contained in pumpkin seeds directly affect your health and well-being? Below are some pumpkin seed benefits:
Pumpkin seeds promote heart health
Pumpkin seeds contain various antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats that help promote heart health.
Seeds such as pumpkin seeds have monounsaturated fatty acids, which are helpful in the reduction of bad cholesterol and the addition of good cholesterol in your blood.
Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure levels.
Pumpkin seeds promote hair growth
Beauty enthusiasts, rejoice! Pumpkin seeds make a great addition to your natural beauty products list especially if you’re conscious about your hair.
Pumpkin seeds are said to contribute to hair growth with their high amounts of magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.
Pumpkin seeds improve prostate health
Not only can pumpkin seeds promote heart health but prostate health as well. The high zinc contained in pumpkin seeds is said to reduce the risk of prostate problems and promote fertility in men.
A research was conducted on the role of pumpkin seed oil in the prevention of prostate illness. The study used 47 benign prostatic hyperplasia patients.
After a year, it was discovered that pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil can be safely used as an effective alternative medicine for benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Pumpkin seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties
Pumpkin seeds also contain anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce pain commonly associated with arthritis.
A study on experimental rats with arthritis showed that inflammation was lessened when they were given pumpkin seed oil (PSO).
Rats that were induced with an anti-inflammatory drug experienced an unfavorable side effect. On the other hand, lab rats that were given PSO experienced no side effects.
Pumpkin seeds get rid of intestinal parasites
Traditionally used as a treatment for intestinal parasites, pumpkin seeds are still used today to eliminate tapeworms.
Providing ground for this is a study conducted to determine the usefulness of pumpkin seeds in treating human taeniasis, a parasitic infection caused by three species of tapeworms.
It was therefore concluded that the combined treatment is a safe and highly effective remedy (with an effectivity rate of 89%) for human taeniasis.
Pumpkin seeds regulate the immune system
One of the pumpkin seed health benefits is its ability to regulate your immune system. Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants that help ensure a strong immune system.
Having these essential compounds also lessens the risk of viral infections that may cause fatigue, flu, colds and other diseases especially during the rainy season.
A study also found that pumpkin and flax seeds had immunomodulator effects that aid in regulating and normalizing the immune system.
Pumpkin seeds aids in weight loss
Pumpkin seeds are deemed one of the best snacks for weight loss. These seeds contain fiber, a carbohydrate that cannot be digested quickly by your body.
As a result, you feel fuller and more satiated for a longer period of time, reducing your cravings for food.
Pumpkin seeds promote sound sleep
These little seeds also contain serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep.
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is used in protein biosynthesis. It converts into serotonin that enhances sleep quality.
Consuming a handful of pumpkin seeds before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and deeper.
Pumpkin seeds are great for pregnant women
Pumpkin seeds may be beneficial for pregnant women, too!
Pregnant women are advised to increase their zinc intake during pregnancy. This is because zinc plays a critical role in the development of the baby’s DNA and cells.
How Can You Add Pumpkin Seeds to Your Diet?
Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to your diet! Here are some ways you can add this nutrient-dense, delicious snack to your diet:
Pumpkin seeds are also sold as a packaged treat. You can find several brands that sell packed pumpkin seeds such as the We Go Nuts, which is highly regarded by its consumers due to its taste quality and nutritional value.
They are also unsalted for less calorie intake. What's more, they come in resealable bags to provide convenience, so you can enjoy a nutritious snack wherever you are.
If you don’t want to consume them raw, you can add your pumpkin seeds to your sauces like the Mexican pepitas sauce.
Pumpkin seeds can also be a nutritious addition to baked goods such as cookies, and biscuits, granolas, and bread.
You can also toss some pumpkin seeds to your fruit or vegetable salads.
You can also grind some pumpkin seeds and add it to your burger.
Pumpkin seeds benefits are real and they can help improve your health in more ways than one. Keep in mind, though, that while seeds don’t require any refrigeration, they are also prone to rancidity.
So, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry area. Snacking on pumpkin seeds can be enjoyable too, so keep an eye on young kids as nut or seed consumption may lead to choking.
Pumpkin seeds added to a nutritious diet can help you enjoy improved health. This, along with exercise and adequate rest, can help you achieve optimum wellness.