The Untold Mystery Of Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re in the mood for a chewy snack that doubles as a phenomenal health food, look no further than Pumpkin seeds.
With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package. They also contain plant compounds known as Phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, which can give your health an added boost.
Best of all, because Pumpkin seeds are highly portable and require no refrigeration, they make an excellent snack to keep with you whenever you’re on the go, or they can be used as a quick anytime snack at home, too.
Did You Know? History and Interesting Trivia
- Pumpkin seeds were very popular in ancient Greece.
- North American tribes were the very first to observe the particular miracle in Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkins and their seeds were an important Native American Indian food used for their dietary and medicinal properties.
- The nutrition in Pumpkin seeds improves with age; they are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they decompose. According to tests made at the Massachusetts Experimental Station, Squash and Pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months show a marked increase in protein content.
- Pumpkin seeds were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico that date back to 7,000 B.C.
- Pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 559 calories per 100 g.
- Pumpkin seeds are called Pepitas in Mexico and they are a trademark of Mexican cuisine.
Health benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
One-quarter cup of Pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function movement.
Raw nuts and seeds, including Pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based Omega-3s (Alpha-Linolenic Acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA – by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels.
Curbs Postmenopausal Syndromes
Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural Phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of Tryptophan, an Amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into Serotonin, which in turn is converted into Melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating Pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the Tryptophan needed for your Melatonin and Serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.
What’s the Best Way to Consume Pumpkin Seeds?
In order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, Pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins. Organic Pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
However, most nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients like Phytic acid that can make all the previously discussed important nutrients less bioavailable when you consume them. So if you plan on consuming seeds or nuts on a regular basis, it would be wise to soak or sprout them. To make them more palatable, you can then dehydrate them in your oven, or better yet and more cost effectively roast them in a warmed non-stick pan.