Pumpkin seeds provide many health benefits to our body. They are a good source of high-quality protein; 100 grams provide over 50% of our daily protein recommendation. They are also a delicious source of minerals, vitamins, fiber and the all important antioxidants. This article discusses the many nutritional benefits pumpkin seeds provide.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
There are numerous studies and research articles supporting the medicinal and health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds. There are approximately 80 different nutrients in the seeds. Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended the consumption of pumpkin seeds as a means of obtaining minerals for the body. What are some of the nutrients that can be obtained by eating the seeds?
- Antioxidants – Antioxidants are various vitamins and minerals that help repair damaged cells. It has been reported these repair, help prevent chronic diseases and provide support for our immune system.
- Minerals – Good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron and copper
- Vitamins – Vitamins B, E, K and Folic Acid
- Amino Acids – L-tryptophan helps with sleep and depression
Other Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds Include
- Diabetes – There have been some promising results with ongoing clinical studies with animals. Time will tell if this can benefit human diabetics.
- Antimicrobial – Indigenous people have found value in the anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties of pumpkin seeds. Research indicates that these benefits are accomplished by a role of unique proteins in the seeds.
- Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) – The lignans, phytosterols and zinc in the seeds have been shown to have beneficial effects to help manage benign prostate enlargement. Studies are ongoing to determine other benefits.
Preparing and Eating Pumpkin Seeds
Preparation of the seeds is important to maximize health benefits. Clean the pulp from the seeds with a paper towel. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and let them dry over night. Roast the seeds around 160°-170° F (75° C). It is recommended that pumpkin seeds be roasted in the oven no more that 15-20 minutes. Roasting longer has been determined to produce changes in structure of the essential fatty acids in the seeds. Microwave roasting of the seeds also can destroy essential fatty acids. The microwave has been touted as “a quick way” to roast seeds, but this is not the healthy choice and is the main reason it is not recommended for preparation. To aid in digestion of the seeds and increase nutritional value even more, they can be soaked in water for a minimum of 6 hours prior to roasting. Seeds that have been previously roasted and bagged for sale can be purchased in various food outlets.
An interesting fact about pumpkin seed nutrition is that the seeds improve with age! These seeds are among a very few foods that show an increase in protein with age. However, it has been suggested that seeds should not be stored for more than a few months before eating them.
To assure you receive all the benefits of the nutrients from pumpkin seeds, eat the entire seed and shell. It has been found that the inside covering of the shell has a strong complement of nutrients. Our diets are generally more acidic and the pumpkin seed is alkaline forming and works to balance body acidity. Pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 280 calories per 50 grams (1.75 oz). What a great healthy snack to have during the day!