Pumpkin Seeds: Part of a Healthy Diet

Pumpkin seeds are in season and once you hear about all their health benefits, you may consider eating them year round.

Native to North America, pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas in Central America, belong to the gourd family. If allowed to mature completely, each pumpkin contains approximately 500 seeds. Inside this seed is a green edible kernel.

Packed with beneficial fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin seeds come highly recommended by most nutritional gurus, including myself. Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, manganese, tryptophan, phosphorus, copper, protein (almost 10 grams per 1/4 cup), zinc and iron.

Benefits include protection against heart disease by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). This is most likely due to the high concentration of phytosterols. Phytosterols are plant compounds that inhibit cholesterol absorption.

For those suffering from an overactive bladder, pumpkin seeds have shown some impressive date in their ability to support bladder function and reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of having to immediately go and sometimes even leakage. Pumpkin seeds may even provide some relief in men suffering from an enlarged prostate.

Pumpkin seeds will protect the bones of the body by preventing mineral deficiencies that are commonly found in those with osteoporosis or osteopenia. It is not just about calcium. Studies are suggesting that the current recommended doses of calcium might not benefit your health at all. All minerals must be considered.

Tryptophan is an amino acid abundant in pumpkin seed. Tryptophan is converted in the body to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that elevates mood and promotes well-being in the brain. It is a happy-calm that may help to reduce anxiety and promote healthy sleep in many individuals.

Pumpkin seeds are a healthy source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant to help protect the body from free radical damage. B-complex vitamins are also another benefit of these delicious seeds. Copper and manganese help to build a strong immune system.

What many may not know is that pumpkin seeds have been traditionally used as an anti-parasitic remedy that helps eliminate intestinal worms in humans by paralyzing them. The treatment is usually followed with caster oil in order to stimulate and purge the bowel to remove the parasites.

Most individuals love their pumpkin seeds roasted. The best way is in a 200-degree oven for twenty minutes. Raw shelled pumpkin seeds are an excellent addition to salads, soups, meatloaf, cereals, and yogurt or you can just eat them raw or roasted by the handful. Unlike tree nuts, very few people suffer an allergy to pumpkin seeds.


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