If you need a go-to snack this Fall as a healthier option to gorging on cookies and pie, then look no further than the nutrient-dense Cucurbita maxim, or the pumpkin seed.
Pumpkin seeds contain a host of nutritional power for such a small package. Pumpkins themselves are full of nutrients, too, but the seeds from which they were sprung are known for protecting against depression, diabetes, parasite infection, heart disease, skin diseases and more.
These tiny seeds are packed full of important minerals, such as manganese, phosphorous, copper, zinc and iron. They also contain high levels of plant-based protein and essential fatty acids that are known for boosting our mood and protecting the brain.
Curb Sweet Cravings
If you want to keep from filling up on sweets and processed foods over the holidays, pumpkins seeds can help. For every cup consumed, they pack a whopping 1.7 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber not only helps to support healthy digestion, but can keep you feeling satiated, so that you don’t turn to unhealthy calories when a burst of hunger strikes.
Fiber also helps to keep your blood sugar levels from spiking, and can even help to usher yeast and fungus from the body, including Candida Albicans. It is also thought that a high-fiber diet can help to prevent gallstones and kidney stones. That’s enough reason to add pumpkin seeds to your diet, alone.
Sleep More Soundly
Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can both help you sleep better, too. Of the many millions of medications prescribed every year, thousands are for those suffering from insomnia or sleep loss. Instead, try a handful of pumpkin seeds. They contain a relatively high amount of the amino acid tryptophan. This amino is responsible for helping our bodies make the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin that is also key for relaxing and falling asleep soundly.
Boost Your Mood
It is this same amino acid in pumpkin seeds that allows us to boost our moods. When things start to get hectic in the holiday season build-up, with patience waning due to an ever-growing list of parties to prepare for and gifts to purchase, we can use one of nature’s perfect little pick-me-ups, instead of turning to pharmaceuticals. Just be sure to eat your pumpkin seeds with a little complex carbohydrate, like sweet potatoes, as this can help the body to absorb the tryptophan.
Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium, another important mineral for helping us feel happy and uplifted.
Increase Magnesium: One of the Most Depleted Nutrients in the Standard Diet
Magnesium is a macromineral that is easily absorbed by the body from pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed powder, and it is one of those important nutrients we desperately need. This one mineral is responsible for more than 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and protein. More than half the US population is thought to be magnesium deficient, and these numbers are similar for Australia and other westernized countries.
Just a few of the things in the body which are supported by sufficient magnesium levels are:
Support Heart and Liver Health
Phytonutrients in pumpkin seed oil have been shown to reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and high blood pressure. Pumpkin seeds may support the heart partially because of their high concentration of phytosterols, plant compounds that inhibit cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. Among numerous nuts and seeds often eaten as snacks, they contain the third highest phytosterol content.
As one of the most important organs of detoxification, the liver can use all the help it can get. Pumpkin seeds help the liver do its job by providing it with high levels of selenium and other minerals. These minerals support the liver, too, by preventing us from over-eating. As the body tries to get the nutrients it needs, it will consume far too much food, often the foods which don’t support our overall health. If the liver isn’t over taxed by having to get rid of excess toxins, it can also work more efficiently.
Improve Bladder Function
If you plan to sit on a plane to visit family this holiday season, you’ll want to start eating your pumpkin seeds now. Why? No one likes to wait uncomfortably in an airplane seat while the restroom sign says ‘occupied.’ A study published in the Japanese Journal of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science, describes how pumpkin seeds can reduce the need to urinate frequently.
For men who have urination problems due to an enlarged prostate, pumpkin seeds were proven to be helpful once again. Researchers found that men aged 50 to 80 who took pumpkin seed extracts were able to reduce nighttime urination frequency by 30% and flow by 40%, as compared to a placebo.
Increase Your Antioxidant Levels
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E, as well as Vitamins B and K.
Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Because of this, consuming foods like pumpkin seeds that are high in antioxidants can help protect against many different diseases.
Antioxidants also just happen to make us feel and look more youthful, support our immune systems, add to our eye health and protect our skin. Pumpkin seeds win again!
Plant Your Next Crop
You can also grow pumpkin seeds easily, depending on your growing zone (about two to four weeks after the last frost) in order to enjoy thousands more seeds from just a handful of pumpkin seeds planted in your garden or in containers or pots on a patio. Generally speaking, pumpkins don’t like the cold, so plan accordingly.
Add Them to Everything
You can roast them (up to 20 minutes on very low heat will keep the nutrients intact), eat them raw, add them to salads or soups, as well as garnish other holiday dishes with them. Just a handful a day can add to your health in so many ways.
The ever-growing list of benefits of pumpkin seeds provide ample reason to add them to your Fall diet.