The Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

by Head Health Nutter on October 26, 2010

A great follow up to last week’s Healthy & Satisfying Alternatives to Halloween Candy article, today’s guest blogger, Jamie Olsen, shares the health benefits of pumpkin seeds. (Plus a recipe for you to try!)

Many adults have fond memories of Halloween revolving around those glorious orange globes that mature in the pumpkin patch come fall. You most likely looked forward to the day when the top finally came off your pumpkin and you scooped out the gooey innards to create a masterpiece of horror to light up the porch on All Hallows Eve!

Your mom probably cleaned the pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, oiled and salted them, and set them to roast in the oven for a crunchy treat. These are the memories that make a holiday special.

As a grownup, you may have even sampled these seasonal seeds in any number of tasty granola medleys. But did you know that the pumpkin seeds that fill your cereal bowl and your memory bank actually harbor several health benefits?

If you are reticent to eat the chewy husks, you can either strip them away or simply purchase a variety that produces seeds without shells. It doesn’t matter how you eat them, just as long as you add them to your diet. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Tryptophan. Like other foods of the season (turkey, for one), pumpkin seeds have been found to contain a compound called tryptophan, which naturally helps fight feelings of depression. Those who indulge in the seed of the pumpkin will find themselves satisfied and content.
  2. Zinc. This mineral is often found in multivitamins because it not only helps bolster your immune system, it also effectively fights against osteoporosis. A half cup a day provides about a third of the amount you need.
  3. Magnesium. This is just one of many electrolytes needed by the body, and one in which most people are deficient. Luckily, a half cup of pumpkin seeds can give you almost your entire recommended daily serving of magnesium.
  4. Phytosterols. These compounds found in pumpkin seeds pack a 1-2 punch when it comes to your health. For starters, they have been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol, which can often lead to heart disease. In addition, they may be effective in the prevention of many different forms of cancer.
  5. Iron. For those of you that suffer from anemia (ladies, this one’s for you), a diet high in iron can really make a difference in your energy level. A half cup of pumpkin seeds has about half of your recommended daily intake of iron, so think about adding them to your cereal or throwing some in a smoothie before you reach for those stomach-churning supplement pills.
  6. Additional benefits. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds are effective at preventing and reducing benign prostatic hypertrophy (BHP), an enlargement of the prostate gland commonly found in men over fifty. They may also be helpful in treating arthritis (due to anti-inflammatory properties), as well as providing high levels of manganese, phosphorous, copper and vitamin K. Finally, they are a high-protein, low-calorie snack that can be eaten plain or mixed with many other foods.

About the Author

Jamie Olsen writes for a website where you can find various types of retirement plans, tips and advice on eligibility, investing, and establishing goals for your future.

If you’re looking for a tasty recipe for your pumpkin seeds this season, try this Live Lighter recipe: Smokey Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. What’s your favourite seasoning for pumpkin seeds? Have any recipes to share?

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