8 Surprising Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are delicious and often overlooked parts of a pumpkin that have many health benefits packed into their small shape. These benefits include their ability to help strengthen your metabolism, heal your body efficiently, boost your heart health, lift your mood, help you sleep, protect your bones, prevent cancer, eliminate kidney stones, alleviate inflammation, boost your immune system, defend against parasites, detoxify the body, and for those who want to gain weight, pumpkin seeds can do that as well!
Pumpkin seeds are the flat, oval-shaped seeds of the pumpkin or squash, both types of seeds have nearly identical benefits. Pumpkin seeds are light green on the inside, but their hull is white. Most pumpkin seeds come with their shell or endosperm still attached, particularly when they are eaten after being roasted, the most common way of consuming them. They can, however, be shelled, and the inner germ can be eaten for a healthy snack with less work and chewing involved.
Pumpkins are traditionally associated with Central American, Mexican, and Native American cuisine, but the genus Cucurbita has other species of squash that have long been grown and cultivated across Europe and Russia, so pumpkin seeds can also be found in those areas of the world as a popular snack food. They are traditionally a seasonal snack, during the autumn when most squash and pumpkin varieties are fully grown. However, the popularity of pumpkin seeds has spurred companies to serve them dried like sunflower seeds throughout the year.
We know that pumpkin seeds have been a part of cultural cuisines since the time of the Aztecs, but it is very likely that they have been important far longer than that, considering that squash is frequently grouped as one of the first three agriculture products in ancient North American history. There must be something good about these seeds to have been around for thousands of years; let’s find out a bit more.
Nutritional Value of Pumpkin Seeds
The staggering health benefits of pumpkin seeds come from its unusual nutritional composition, including impressive levels of manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, zinc, iron, and protein, as well as smaller amounts of B complex vitamins, and vitamin A. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds have phytosterols, an organic compound that also contributes to its healthy qualities. Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of pumpkins seeds below.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Antioxidant Activity: Cancer is one of the most serious conditions that affects the human race, and we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our chances of developing this dreaded disease. Pumpkin seed extracts contain a number of anti-cancer properties and components, including phenolic compounds that have directly been attributed to scavenging free radicals in test subjects that were given pumpkin seed extracts. Antioxidants are powerful substances that rid the body of free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can lead to a host of diseases, including cancer! Furthermore, pumpkin seeds are good for relieving the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, primarily due to its activity as a diuretic. This keeps the prostate healthy, one of the most common places for men to develop cancer.
Parasites: Pumpkin seeds have long been associated with anti-parasitic activity, and has been used traditionally as a way to eliminate tapeworms and other dangerous parasites in the body. For children, who are the most susceptible to worms, pumpkin seeds provide a delicious snack and a very important defensive line against those worms, which can result in malnutrition, incorrect growth patterns, and even death. The exact mechanism by which pumpkin seeds do this is somewhat unclear.
Inflammation and Arthritis: Certain studies have shown that pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties in the body, which is one of the common uses of this delicious snack. Inflammation can often be the result of various deficiencies, including that of protein, various vitamins, and minerals. Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can be debilitating, so adding healthy amounts of proteins into your body to keep the tissues healthy and repaired, as well as a good amount anti-inflammatory compounds will prevent that from happening. Pumpkin seeds have been directly associated with a decrease in inflammation and the associated pains of arthritis.
Kidney Stones: Pumpkin seeds have been connected with a reduction in toxins in the body, due to its diuretic properties, as well as the antioxidant activity. Furthermore, they stimulate circulation and increase the speed and processing of the livers and kidneys. Uric acid and various other toxins are therefore removed from the body, which means they cannot accumulate into dangerous kidney stones or other forms, like gout and arthritis, as mentioned earlier. Pumpkin seeds promote the health of the kidneys and helps to detoxify the body from top to bottom.
Body Metabolism: Our body functions at its highest levels when all of our systems are working efficiently and healthily. Having a stable and adequate amount of protein in your diet is essential, because proteins are made up of amino acids, which can be used in thousands of enzymatic and metabolic processes every day. Without those essential amino acids and proteins, our bodies would cease being functional, and we would become weak, lethargic, unhealthy, slow-witted, and generally exhausted. Pumpkin seeds are a huge source of protein. 30% of pumpkin seed volume is made of protein. There are 12 grams of protein in a single cup of pumpkin seeds, which is approximately 25% of our daily requirement of protein.
Anxiety and Insomnia: If you’re feeling wired or stressed after a long day, you can turn to pumpkin seeds to calm you down and help you get a good night’s sleep. Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of both magnesium and tryptophan, both of which are closely associated with sedation and soothing qualities that stimulate sleep. Pumpkin seeds can help your head hit the pillow in a peaceful, lasting way due to those two vital components.
Bone Health: Pumpkin seeds are extremely popular due to their effects on osteoporosis. They have high levels of zinc, calcium, copper, and assorted other minerals that are linked to increased bone density. Studies have shown that consistent intake of pumpkin seeds can reduce bone weakness and the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Cholesterol and Heart Health: One of the unique organic compounds in pumpkin seeds is phytosterols, which are directly connected to lower LDL cholesterol levels, which prevents blood clots and atherosclerosis, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, the high copper levels increase red blood cell count in the body and improve oxygenated passage of blood through the vessels. This fact, combined with a low sodium content, can increase heart health by reducing blood pressure, so pumpkin seeds should be considered a valuable cardiovascular booster.
A Few Words of Caution: Pumpkin seeds are very high in calories, so it can exacerbate obesity. Also, there has been limited evidence that it can cause ejaculation problems for some men.