Pumpkin has always been linked to Thanksgiving or Halloween.Unfortunately, the year-round benefits of this healthy food, particularly the seeds, have often been ignored.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in remarkable assortment of health-enhancing nutrients,thus they are fast becoming a popular snack among health-conscious people. They are high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, iron, tryptophan and protein. Furthermore, they are a good source of vitamins E, K, C and many B vitamins.
They are also rich in good quality protein and essential fatty acids. In addition, phenolic and free radical-scavenging antioxidants are present in various forms.
The best thing about them, is that they are readily available year-round, highly portable and require no refrigeration.They are an excellent and quick snack to have on hand whether you are at home, the office or on a vacation.
The seeds have a sweet, creamy, nutty flavor and are enjoyed in deserts, as a snack and in savory dishes. They can be added to sautéed vegetables and sprinkle them on salads, soups and smoothies. In addition, you can use pumpkin seeds in your baking.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
1. Lowers Bad Cholesterol Level
Regular consumption of pumpkin seeds can help lower the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) in the body.
In a 2012, researchers found that rats induced with atherosclerosis and supplemented with pumpkin seeds showed a significant increase in protective high-density lipoproteins (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) as well as a decrease in LDL cholesterol.
The phytosterols in pumpkin seeds help lower LDL levels, and it also prevents blood clots and atherosclerosis. Furthermore, these seeds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid that help lower LDL and increase HDL in the blood.
Eat 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry roasted pumpkin seeds daily to help lower your LDL. Make sure to eat the seeds without adding any extra salt.
2. Controls Blood Sugar
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, pumpkins seeds have a positive impact on diabetes. The study suggests that pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation and prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.
What is more, phytochemical compounds in pumpkin seed oil help prevent diabetic nephropathy (diabetic kidney disease).
Luckily, diabetic people can consider pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack. Eat up to 2 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds a day.
3. Fights Anxiety
A 2007 study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology showed that tryptophan, an amino acid that can be found in pumpkin seeds, helps alleviate anxiety. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and at ease. When the body has less tryptophan, it can lead to anxiety, depression and other mood irregularities.
Likewise, the B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids in pumpkin seeds help the nervous system work more efficiently. This reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system.
When you feel stressed after a long day, eat some roasted pumpkin seeds to help calm you down.
4. Relieves Arthritis Inflammation
Pumpkin seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties and hence they are very helpful in treating arthritis, especially osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Their anti-inflammatory and pain-suppressing properties can alleviate pain and inflammation in the joints.
In a 1995 study published in the journal Pharmacology Research, pumpkin seed oil was found to be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis in rats induced with arthritis, but without the side effects.
To reduce inflammation related to arthritis, massage the affected area with pumpkin seed oil twice a day for 10 minutes. It is also important to include pumpkin seeds in your diet.
5. Improves Bladder and Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds support bladder function and combat symptoms associated with an overactive bladder. What is more, can also help treat an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The compounds known as phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds help shrink an enlarged prostate.
Furthermore, the high zinc content supports prostate health, helps improve urinary flow and reduces nighttime urinary frequency. For treating BPH, eat a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds daily.
6. Protects Bones
Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium. Magnesium is essential for improving bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
A 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a strong connection between high magnesium intake and higher bone mineral density.
What is more, pumpkin seeds are rich in phosphorous and zinc. They are natural protectors against osteoporosis. These minerals also reduce the risk of bone fractures.
Eating ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds daily can reduce bone weakness and osteoporosis symptoms.
7. Improves Heart Health
The magnesium found in these seeds helps in many important heart functions, including the pumping action of your heart and relaxation of blood vessels.
Moreover, this mineral helps control high blood pressure and plays a key role in preventing sudden cardiac arrest, heart attacks and strokes.
What is more, pumpkin seeds helps are high in copper. Copper increases the body’s red blood cell count and improves the flow of oxygenated blood through the vessels.
This in turn improves heart functioning. In addition, the healthy fats, antioxidants and fiber in pumpkin seeds are good for heart health.
8. Prevents Intestinal Worms
Pumpkin seeds have anti parasitic properties that help eliminate tapeworms, pinworms and other dangerous parasites in the intestines. How they do this is somewhat unclear. However, the result is definitely positive.
It is thought that the seeds do not actually kill the worms but paralyze them. This prevents them from holding on to the intestinal walls during a bowel movement.
Chew pumpkin seeds on an empty stomach daily for a few weeks to get rid of intestinal worms. Make sure to drink plenty of water as well to help expel the worms.
9. Regulates Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are rich in high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin and then into melatonin.
Both serotonin and melatonin help promote a restful night’s sleep. What is more, the zinc in pumpkin seeds assists the brain in converting tryptophan into serotonin.
To promote sleep, mix 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seed powder in a glass of warm milk and drink it at least 1 hour before bedtime.
10. Boosts Immune System
Rich in zinc, pumpkin seeds help boost your immune system. What is more, zinc deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to colds and the flu, chronic fatigue, weakness, acne and many other health problems.
They contain a wide variety of antioxidants that are essential for a healthy, disease-free body. These seeds also contain selenium, which helps prevent free radical damage and promotes quick recovery.
Start your day with a healthy smoothie topped with ground pumpkin seeds. This will keep your immune system strong, improve your metabolism and increase your energy level.
They are high in calories, so eat them in moderation to prevent weight gain. A handful of seeds daily are enough. To preserve the healthy nutrients present in the seeds, eat them raw. It is best to purchase organic raw pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed powder.