When you're carving pumpkins, you’re bound to be left with a surplus of pumpkin seeds. While many people simply scoop out and discard the seeds as they prepare to carve their jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, offer many health benefits.
Pumpkin seeds were first used by Native American tribes, who found the seeds to be useful in eliminating intestinal parasites. The tribes also used pumpkin seeds to treat kidney problems. The seeds are still used to prevent kidney stones, but it is not known how this works.
A 2005 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that 68 percent of Americans have a magnesium deficiency. A magnesium deficiency can eventually lead to serious conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes if left untreated. One way to make sure you don’t fall into this category is to regularly incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet. Pumpkin seeds are so high in magnesium that just one quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains approximately 87 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium for an adult.
Pumpkin seeds can prevent and fight kidney stones,
osteoporosis and prostate cancer. Photo by Food Thinkers/Courtesy Flickr
A great source of phosphorus and manganese, pumpkin seeds also contain protein, iron, calcium, zinc and a variety of vitamins including B, K and A. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the zinc in these seeds has proven to help prevent osteoporosis in both men and women. Omega-3 fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds create a natural anti-inflammatory effect so arthritis-sufferers can find relief without the negative side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Phytosterols, a naturally occurring compound found in pumpkin seeds, have been found to be helpful for lowering LDL cholesterol.
Pumpkin seed oil helps keep testosterone from inflicting damage on the male prostate cells and therefore helps reduce prostate cancer development. Pumpkin seeds help ease difficult urination by inhibiting enzymes associated with prostate enlargement. Pumpkin seed extract can also help those with incontinence issues by increasing testosterone levels and strengthening the pelvic muscles.
Though it is best to eat pumpkin seeds raw to preserve the nutritional elements, there are many other delicious ways to enjoy them.
• Add pumpkin seeds to soups or salads for a nutty flavor.
• Mix pumpkin seeds in with sautéed vegetables.
• Combine pumpkin seed oil with honey and olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.
• Roast pumpkin seeds with an endless combination of spices.
Try this easy recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Seeds!