Halloween is just around the corner, and you know what that means. Pumpkin carving! Pumpkin carving is a Halloween tradition most people enjoy taking part in, as long as they don’t have to pull the guts out of the pumpkins themselves. What most people don’t realize is that the seeds within the pumpkins are incredibly nutritional.
Pumpkin seeds are jam packed with a wide variety of nutrients, such as magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium, to name a few. Eating even a small portion can provide a substantial amount of health benefits.
What are the health benefits?
Although there is an endless list of health benefits to eating pumpkin seeds, here are just a few of well known ones:
- Improvement of prostate and bladder health: Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is partially because the seeds are high in zinc, which is important for prostate health. In addition, pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating an enlarged prostate. There are even some pills that incorporate the seeds to help improve prostate health.
- High in Magnesium: Eating just ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role within the body. It takes part in the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids as well as proteins, bone health, and heart health.
- May improve heart health: Pumpkin seeds are rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. All four of these combined have benefits for your heart and liver. The fiber within the seeds help lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood and decreases the risk of heart disease. Omega-3s are known to decrease the risk of thrombosis and arrhythmias, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or even sudden cardiac death.
- May improve sleep: Pumpkin seeds are an amazing source or tryptophan, which is an amino acid. Tryptophan has been used to treat chronic insomnia, as your body tends to convert tryptophan into melatonin. Having a few seeds before bed with a piece of fruit may help you sleep better.
What’s the best way to eat them?
Incorporating seeds into your diet can be a tedious task, however, what’s much more daunting is how you know if you’re getting the most of the pumpkin seeds you’re eating. Here are a few tips for both:
Incorporating seeds into your diet:
- Top salads with them
- Make homemade granola mixtures with nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruits
- Brush pumpkin seeds with olive oil, lightly season and bake until brown and toasted
- Make your own pumpkin seed butter (similar to peanut butter) by blending whole, raw pumpkin seeds in a food processor until smooth.
Type of pumpkin seeds to eat:
- They should be eaten raw to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds
- Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred
- If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh
- If they smell musty, spoiled, or stale, that could be an indication of rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins.
- Store the seeds in a cool, dark and dry place to improve shelf life
Interested in roasting your own pumpkin seeds? Check out this neat recipe for a simple and delicious way to enjoy your snacking! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pumpkin-seeds-recipe.html
Overall, pumpkin seeds are a tasty and healthy snack from which everyone can benefit. So next time you carve a pumpkin, be sure to keep those seeds!