Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Fall is a great time of year with plenty of vitamin rich foods ready to harvest. If you celebrate Halloween with your kids, chances are you’ve already made your trip to a pumpkin patch and are getting ready to carve your pumpkin plunder into works of art to adorn your doorstep. But before you gut those pumpkins, be sure to read this post and get ready to make use of those valuable pumpkin seeds! You might be amazed at the wealth of nutrients contained in those little flavorful nuggets.
Zinc: A critical micromineral
We need about 50 milligrams or less of zinc in our daily diet to help regulate genetic activities, sexual function, support blood sugar balance, immune system, and also our senses of smell and taste. Zinc is very important for growing children, and it is also powerful for supporting prostate health.
To get the maximum amount of zinc from your pumpkin seeds, it’s best to consume them with the shell intact to avoid stripping the thin endosperm layer between the shell and the seed. Although the seeds themselves have a good amount of zinc (approximately 7-8 milligrams), this endosperm layer is highly concentrated with zinc and adds another 2-3 milligrams, so you don’t want to miss out on it. Besides that, it’s so much easier and tastier to take the seeds from your pumpkin, rinse and soak them, spread them into a thin layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and your favorite seasonings, and pop them in the oven at 170 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Omega 3 Content
Omega 3 fats are critical for brain health, balancing the body and reducing inflammation. Our modern diets are so heavily impacted with Omega 6 fats that it becomes easy to get off balance with a high Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, setting the stage for inflammation and chronic ailments. It’s wise to seek out foods rich in Omega 3 to help your body function at optimal levels.
Plant based omega-3 fats are a great way to get healthy fats in your daily diet, and pumpkin seeds are full of ALA (alpha-linolenic) omega-3 fatty acids. ALA has to be converted by the body into omega-3 EPA and DHA fats, so depending on your body’s enzyme contents, it may not be as beneficial as obtaining omega-3 fats from animal sources (like fatty fishes and cod liver oil). Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to incorporate ALA in your diet, and as your nutrition improves, so will your body’s ability to convert food into fuel.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
The oil contained in pumpkin seeds has some added benefits, supporting the digestive system, joints, and again, prostate health. Pumpkin seed oil may also help your body decrease LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad” cholesterol) levels and protect against hair loss.
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- Mercola, Dr. Joseph. 9 Amazing Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds. September 30, 2013.
- The George Metaljan Foundation. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Pumpkin Seeds.
- The George Metaljan Foundation. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Zinc.
- Health and Energy Foods: Pumpkin Seed Oil Benefits.