Pumpkin seeds contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, folate, zinc, copper, manganese, and magnesium, among other nutrients. These tiny health boosters are a wonderful alternative to pill supplements, and they are easy to package and carry with you regardless of your daily schedule or plans. From your office desk to the trail, let’s crack open a dozen reasons you should add pumpkin seeds to your daily regimen.
- Boost omega-3 levels. Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful way to get the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) you need. According to Harvard School of Public Health, omega-3s may, “prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.”
- Healthy blood pressure and healthy erections. That is correct, pumpkin seeds help improve erectile dysfunction (ED), thanks to their potassium content. One ounce of pumpkin seeds serves up approximately 261 milligrams of potassium, according to the USDA. Having sufficient potassium levels will help to improve blood pressure by counteracting your body’s sodium levels. This will allow blood to flow as it should, keeping things pointing north.
- Nutrition for healthy liver function. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with many of the nutrients your body craves, including those necessary for proper liver function. Rich in fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats, these little seeds promote bile production — they are especially effective when combined with flax seeds. Secreted by the liver, bile assists with the breaking down and elimination of fats and toxins.
- Alternative to sleeping pills. Taking an over-the-counter sleep aid can leave you feeling groggy and drowsy the next morning. This can negatively affect your productivity, especially if you are generally a morning person. Pumpkin seeds offer an exceptional, natural alternative to sleeping pills. Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of tryptophan, which has been shown to be more useful than prescription tryptophan, according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience (2005). Tryptophan is a substance in foods that is the raw material for our bodies to make serotonin, the ‘feel good’ brain neurotransmitter. Serotonin not only helps with depression but it also alleviates anxiety. In fact, most anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs work to preserve serotonin, as it is vital to feelings of well-being. Studies have shown that foods containing tryptophan are significantly helpful in banishing anxiety and depression. Tryptophan also helps to promote healthy sleep. Melatonin combined with serotonin help to create a restful, relaxing sleep and tryptophan provides the raw materials for both of these desired brain neurotransmitters. Try a handful or two of pumpkin seeds combined with some cherries for a bedtime snack, and you will sleep like a baby and wake rested, restored, and ready to roar!
- Prevent and regulate type 2 diabetes. The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds plays another essential role in keeping you healthy, specifically when discussing type 2 diabetes. Nearly 10 percent of Americans have diabetes, and roughly, eight million are undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Magnesium deficiency could be one factor in insulin resistance, since it is a key mineral in your body’s glucose transporter mechanism, according to a study published in Biological Trace Element Research (2010).
- Essential to men’s health. The zinc content in pumpkin seeds has been studied by various researchers for its role in the treatment of a common problem for men: an enlarged prostate. Zinc is considered an antitumor agent for prostate cancer, according to a study published in the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics (2007).
- Decrease menopausal symptoms. Women can also benefit from the nutritional power pumpkin seeds boast. According to a study published in the journal Climacteric (2011), pumpkin seed oil may increase HDL cholesterol while decreasing blood pressure and menopausal symptoms, including headaches and hot flashes.
- Protein powerhouse. For their size, pumpkin seeds contain a significant amount of protein. Protein is essential to your overall health and wellness; it is in your muscles, bones, skin, and hair, accounting for almost everything that physically makes you who you are. One ounce of pumpkin seeds delivers more than five grams of protein, according to USDA statistics. Consuming enough protein may help lower your risk of developing several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Rich in Magnesium, magnesium is vital to about 300 or more of your body functions, and most of us are short on this incredible nutrient. Magnesium helps to create ATP, which are the energy molecules in your body, it helps to make RNA and DNA, the heart of each of your cells, regulates your heart beat, helps you sleep and relax, creates healthy bones, lowers your blood pressure and keeps you regular. Since about 80% of the population is in need of more magnesium, if you are an athlete, drink alcohol, or take blood pressure medicine, or if you need help maintaining your blood sugar, you need even more magnesium. I choose pumpkin seeds. Tiny pumpkin seeds offer 74 milligrams of magnesium per one-ounce serving, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutritional data. That is nearly 25 percent of your daily value (DV). Magnesium is vital to proper heart function, including relaxing your blood vessels and normalizing your heart rhythm. Magnesium is also a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Antioxidant-Rich snack, pumpkin seeds boast free radical antioxidants, which boost immune function and ward off the oxidative stress associated with many chronic diseases, according to a study published in Food Research International (2009).
- A powerful anti-inflammatory food. Pumpkin seeds serve up a number of anti-inflammatory properties that can keep you going during long workdays. One study examined the inflammation-fighting powers of pumpkin seeds in comparison to the arthritis drug indomethacin in rats. The study, published in Pharmacological Research (1995), found pumpkin seed oil to be as effective as indomethacin, without the drug’s side effects.
- Zinc, Immunity, Testosterone, etc. Pumpkin seeds also contain a hefty supply of zinc, which not only beefs up your immune system and helps you fight off colds and flu, but also serves as an important nutrient for your brain and your mood. Zinc also helps with healthy cell growth and division, as well as faster healing of wounds. Diabetics and overweight individuals should take note of pumpkin seeds as they help in regulating and balancing blood sugar, and appetite. I also want to note that zinc is vital in men for the healthy production of sperm and for the testosterone supply. Pumpkin seeds have been associated with virility from ancient times and its zinc is may be why! They also valuable as they help promote prostate health and in the prevention of BPH, or enlarged prostate issues. Men with BPH often suffer from urinary frequency, which is feeling the ‘need to pee’ all the time. This is because suffers from BPH have a difficult time emptying their bladder, thus they always feel that they need to go. A diet high in pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil can offer dramatic relief from the urinary issues associated with BPH. Studies show a 40% increase in urinary flow and a 30% reduction in urinary frequency compared to a placebo. One ounce of pumpkin seeds boasts nearly three milligrams of zinc, an essential mineral for healthy immune function. Zinc deficiency is associated with an increased likelihood of catching the flu and colds. Inadequate zinc levels in the body are also linked to depression, loss of focus, and fatigue, among other health issues. Pumpkin seeds may help keep your zinc levels optimal.
Zinc deficiencies are common in the modern world. This is one of the many unintended consequences of modern industrialized farming practices. Zinc (as well as other deficiencies) become a problem because crops that are grown in nutrient-depleted soil simply cannot offer us anywhere near the nutrition our bodies need. This problem also comes up for folks who choose to eat a vegetarian diets—especially those who eat a lot of soy foods, and those who eat highly processed starchy foods like grains and beans.
Pumpkin seed oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory effects that increase HDL (good cholesterol), lower the bad LDL and overall cholesterol, fight heart disease, and decrease blood pressure, as well as helping arthritis.
Pumpkin seeds offer a tasty and powerful addition to your diet, and you don’t have to wait until Halloween to eat them. However, they are best and at their most nutritious when eaten raw. Pumpkin seeds should be eaten organic if possible. The nutrients are the most available if they are sprouted or soaked which helps to remove the natural phytic acid in them that can block nutrient absorption. If you try to dry your own, it’s a good amount of work to take the shells off of them, so I recommend you buy them at local health stores or online at such places as Thrive Market.
To get the maximum nutrition out of pumpkin seeds, make sure you eat them raw. To ensure they are fresh, smell the seeds before purchasing them at your local health-food store or grocery store. Buying pesticide-free, organic pumpkin seeds is optimal.
Want to add the health benefits of pumpkin seeds into your diet? Do what I do, try throwing a handful of pumpkin seeds into your next smoothie, or adding them to a salad, or even in your oatmeal or yogurt. They are also great in soups, stews and even meatloaf or cookies. If you are pressed for time and want a quick, nutritious snack, then pumpkin seeds are an amazing choice. These tiny seeds are loaded with vital vitamins and minerals that will get you through a few hunger pangs in between meals.
Happy Gardening and Happy Road Tripping!!