More than just squash innards--pumpkin seed benefits and nutrition facts may just change your life. So don’t toss ‘em out before reading up on some of the great benefits of pumpkin seeds for nutrition, healing, and even beauty purposes.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrition and Health Benefits
“Pumpkin seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is the plant based form of omega-3 fatty acid,” says Shereen Lehman, MS, a nutritionist and expert for About.com. “That means they’re perfect for vegans and vegetarians who can’t get omega-3s from animal sourced foods.”
Certain types of fish tend to have the most potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are most notably effective in improving artery health, fighting cholesterol, and boosting brain function. For people who want an alternative to fish, pumpkin seeds are an excellent choice. “Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber and several minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc,” says Ms. Lehman. “They’re also high in protein.”
This alkaline-forming seed can prevent the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones and helps keep bones healthy by protecting against osteoporosis. Magnesium from the seeds will lend itself to improving metabolism and athletic performance, while iron can help ward off common ailments and conditions like anemia, low energy, shortness of breath, headaches, irritability, and dizziness. Its zinc content may also help men maintain a healthy sperm count and avoid testosterone deficiency.
“The healthy fat content make pumpkin seeds a great snack that will leave you full and satisfied,” says Tara Miller, holistic nutritionist.
Along with the omega-3s and monounsaturated fats that your body loves, pumpkin seeds also come packed with 12 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber per one cup serving. That healthy dose of dietary fiber may help your digestive tract, keep extra weight from piling on, prevent heart disease, and lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins as well, including riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates, and vitamin B6. Rich in phytoestrogens, pumpkin seed oil has also been shown to improve HDL cholesterol levels.
In terms of feeling the benefits of adding pumpkin seeds to your diet, the L-tryptophan that they contain may help you sleep better at night by aiding melatonin and serotonin production, especially when you consume them before bedtime. The oil from pumpkin seeds has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may benefit people suffering from various nutritional deficiencies or arthritic conditions who don’t want to deal with any of the nasty side effects associated with medications.
Having long been used in folk medicine, researchers agree that pumpkin seed oil exhibits antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects. In another study, the oil led to improvements in the plasma lipid profile and cardiovascular outcomes in women.
Pumpkin Seed Benefits for Skin and Hair
Some people have started replacing their coconut oil-based skincare routines with pumpkin seed oil instead. Its healthy fats are great for hydration while the vitamin A promotes cell turnover to keep skin looking youthful and free from breakouts.
The oil from pumpkin seeds has also been touted for its ability to promote hair growth in men with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia. After 24 weeks of treatment, mean hair count increases of 40 percent were observed in men treated with pumpkin seed oil, while only a 10 percent increase was observed in placebo-treated men.
How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds
One of the most popular ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds is by roasting them in the oven and eating them on their own as a crunchy snack. But there are lots of other great ways you can incorporate them into some of your other favorite meals throughout the day.
“One quarter cup of pumpkin seeds has about 180 calories so you may want to be careful about eating them out of hand if you’re watching your weight, but you can also sprinkle pumpkin seeds on salads and green veggies,” says Ms. Lehman. “Or add them to smoothies.”
“I often eat them on their own or in a homemade trail mix with goji berries, walnuts and unsweetened coconut flakes,” says Ms. Miller. Enjoy tossed on salads, soups or grains bowls for added texture, flavor and nutrients.”
If you’d like to get a little more creative with using pumpkin seeds in your diet, try using them in pesto sauces in place of or in addition to pine nuts, use them as a soup or salad garnish, or grinding them up and add to meatballs and burgers for a subtle nutty flavor.
Check out 14 Easy Ways to Eat Pumpkin Seeds for recipes to all these great ideas and more. And be sure to have a look at some of the delicious 8 Simple Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipes to sweeten or spice them up with flavorings you can’t resist!
Just keep in mind that if you plan on eating pumpkin seeds for the health benefits, consuming them raw may be the best way to go. Roasting them may impact their fatty acids and vitamin E, potentially reducing their nutritional value.
Now you know that pumpkins aren’t just useful for baking delicious pies and carving up scary Jack-o’-lanterns. In fact, with all the incredible health and beauty benefits that pumpkin seeds have to offer, you’ll have a good excuse to stock up on them while they’re in season so you can enjoy them all the way through the fall and winter.
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