7 Surprising Pumpkin Seeds Benefits For Health
The pumpkin is a fruit closely tied in with North America, and its seeds have been getting a lot of attention in recent years. The pumpkin has been a part of American history, and for good reason. It is delicious, and it is native to the American continent, which makes it a very popular crop. Nowadays, pumpkins are grown all over the world, but the largest producers of pumpkins are still the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Farmers across the country are growing this magnificent food, and there are doing a great job at it. The pumpkin seed contains many vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which are both great for the skin and overall complexion. Vitamin C is also present but in lesser amounts. The minerals in the pumpkin seed (calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and manganese) help make it a wonderful addition to any diet.
The seed is also low in fat and has a nice amount of protein and fiber. It is not the kind of food you could base a diet around, but it makes for a great snack and a salad upgrader, and there are undeniably many health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
History Of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are known as pepita, which is Spanish for “little seed”. This title also applies to any squash-related fruit seeds but is more closely associated with the pumpkin. The raw seeds are light green and are sometimes covered in a white shell or husk. In Mexico, these seeds are a common food ingredient, and they are eaten in a variety of ways: fresh, roasted, salted, spiced. It can be bought raw, but can also be found in the pre-packaged form.
Squash (a kindred fruit, which the pumpkin is closely related to) was among the original Three Sisters of Agriculture, along with corn and beans. These were domesticated thousands of years ago, and their significance has only grown with time. Now, with so many companies trying to cash-in on the different health trends, the pumpkin seed has been given this seemingly new status. But, in reality, this fruit and its seeds have always been popular, healthy, and beneficial.
Pumpkin seed oil is also a very popular substance. It is a culinary oil, though because of its relatively low smoke point, you don’t tend to use it too much in everyday cooking. However, it is still a healthier choice than some of the more popular cooking oils, and if you know how to work with that kind of low smoke oil, it can be very beneficial. I have never used it to fry anything since I would probably burn whatever it is that I would be trying to cook -- hey, I am a realist.
— Rachel Kelly (@RachelKellyNet) September 11, 2017
Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, known as ‘pepitas’ in Mexican Spanish, are rich in powerful nutrients. They’re significantly high in fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, iron, and fat. The fat is primarily omega-6 fatty acids that nourish your body in multiple ways. They’re also a rich source of zinc and a good source of protein. Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E. A high antioxidant content is what often makes a food a superfood and allows your body to fight free radicals. With this in mind, pumpkin seeds are pretty up there both in terms of antioxidants, and generally high nutrient content! In fact, it’s these properties that are to thank for pumpkin seeds versatile health benefits.
To list just a few more of the vitamins present in this superfood, pumpkin seeds also contain a large amount of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. With this insight of pumpkin seeds nutritional benefits, let’s take a closer look at what that means for your health.
2. Improve Sleep
The fact that pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc means that these tasty pepitas can improve both sleep quality and time it takes to fall asleep. This is largely because the zinc converts into tryptophan (an amino acid) which is the precursor to serotonin. This then converts into melatonin which is your sleep hormone. Getting a good amount of sleep and improving your sleep hygiene is an important aspect of living a healthy life. This is especially relevant if you suffer from sleep disturbing conditions such as sleep apnea or insomnia.
Seratonin is natures sleeping pill, so you should add any food that enhances your ability to naturally sleep to your diet. Getting enough sleep is necessary for not only optimal cognitive functioning but also as a preventative for an array of health concerns.
3. Reduce Risk Of Cancer
You can’t control whether you get cancer or not, but you can do whatever it takes to reduce your risk. On that note, pumpkin seeds have been proven to reduce the risk of developing multiple types of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Pumpkin seeds help to relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Eating pumpkin seed extracts regularly has the potential to improve your breast health and prostate health.
Another study on postmenopausal women found an association with an intake in pumpkin seeds and a reduction in breast cancer risk. This is due to the rich amount of lignans found in pumpkin seeds.
4. High In Magnesium
Having taken a look at just how nutrient-dense pumpkin seeds are it should come as no surprise that pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient to help lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, and maintain bone health. As mentioned earlier, it’s the magnesium density that helps to improve and promote sleep.
Additionally, the manganese found in pumpkin seeds aids with the process of collagen production. This means that a diet rich in pumpkin seeds can help to improve your complexion and optimize skin regeneration.
5. Nourish Hair
Some use pumpkin seed oil on their scalp, since it may be helpful in balancing out the oils and helping new hair come in. Some companies market the oil as a way to reverse balding, and there may be something to that. A study, conducted in 2014, focused entirely on the effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men. By the end of the study, there was evidence of improvement in those who used pumpkin seed oil as opposed to the control group which received a placebo. In both groups, there were no negative effects whatsoever.
Ultimately, you can attribute male baldness to the genetic predisposition of any specific person. Some have a full head of hair until they die, and some go bald at 33. Studies such as the one mentioned earlier are showing us that some kinds of people will respond to an oil-based treatment and that it can help improve the growth of hair. Does this mean it will work for everyone? Probably not, but it can improve your chances of reversing baldness.
Pumpkin seed oil is not just for those who would like a full head of hair, but also for those who already possess that full head of hair. Using pumpkin seed oil during your hair-maintenance routine can help your hair come in thicker, and prevent any future baldness from occurring. So -- are you afraid of losing all of your hair, due to your genetics? Start using pumpkin seeds in your diet, and see how it can help you stay “forever young”, hair-wise.
6. Reduce Inflammation
The high antioxidant properties of these seeds make them effective at reducing inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation can help to improve your immune system, reduce your risk of heart disease, and a multitude of other health conditions.
Chronic inflammation can often be dormant and present itself in other symptoms before you recognize the underlying cause. It can reveal itself in the form of fatigue but can affect your arteries, organs, and joints. When left uncared for it can lead to serious health conditions such as blood vessel disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. With this in mind, you can never fight inflammation too early or be too cautious. This is especially true when all it takes is a handful of pumpkin seeds!
7. Improve Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds have the ability to improve your heart health. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise based on the array of benefits discussed so far in this article, but it’s a profound benefit nonetheless. This is mostly thanks to the decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats found in pumpkin seeds. Animal studies show that these fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds help to mitigate cholesterol levels, help with insulin regulation, and improve your overall blood flow. In fact, according to the USDA, a quarter cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains 40mg of omega-3 fatty acids. An abundance of healthy fats is something that any nutritionist will tell you is important to get a lot of. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to cut all fats out of your diet in order to be living a healthy lifestyle. Healthy fats can also aid with weight loss! Balance is the key to every healthy thing in life.
This seed has many other benefits, and it is one of the healthiest ingredients which you can add. What is great about pumpkin seed is that it doesn’t take much to see a positive effect. No need to buy anything else, or do anything else. All you need to do is get to your local market and pick some up. There are so many ways to enjoy this fruit, and I am absolutely certain you will love it.
There are tons of recipes online – and not just salads recipes! -- featuring pumpkin seeds as the main ingredient. Yes, they can be eaten raw, but they can also be turned into a smoothie, made into pesto, added to your muesli or granola with some flaxseeds and chia seeds, use whole raw pumpkin seeds in your soups or sauces, or simply mixed into any baked goods you may have in store. You can also coat them in olive oil and roast them in the oven to be added into a salad for some extra crunch!