Pumpkin is truly a nature’s gift, a widely grown vegetable used both in food and used for fun celebrations. Pumpkins are native to North and South America. Pumpkin’s outer layer are in different colours like orange, yellow, brown, white, dark pale green, red and gray. The inside of a pumpkin has golden yellow to orange flesh, with numerous off white coloured seeds. The seeds are like peanut, once heated the seeds puff up like popcorn. Pumpkin seeds taste real good and are eaten as a snack. Let us see some of the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are also called as pepitas, they are great sources of vitamin E, minerals, zinc, dietary fibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, copper, and manganese. In addition, it contains free radical fighting anti-oxidant and phytosterols.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain healthy fat, and they are important to maintain a healthy heart. It also contains anti-oxidants, fibre, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This combination is beneficial for heart as well as liver. The fibre content decreases cholesterol level in the blood and it reduces the risk of heart diseases like heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. Omega-3 may also help to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and slightly lower blood pressure. It also improves endothelial function.
Unsalted pumpkin seeds are great for health. The combination of pumpkin seeds and flax seeds protects liver from even a high cholesterol diet. The anti-oxidants present in pumpkin seeds has the power of protecting liver from damages.
“According to an article published in a 2012 edition of the Journal of Medicinal Food, a team of researchers from Egypt examined the effect of pumpkin seed oil on hypertension. They found out that pumpkin seed oil exhibits an anti-hypertensive effect; which is an extremely valuable characteristic for those with advanced chronic liver disease. Because of the impaired blood circulation in a severely scarred liver, the pressure can get very high – which requires those affected to prioritize the lowering of their blood pressure”.
Support the immune system
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc. Zinc plays a significant role in many activities such as immune system function, cell growth, good sleep, sense of smell and tastes, insulin regulation, eye and skin health, and male sexual function. Zinc deficiency leads to acne, cold and flu, depression, learning problems and chronic fatigue to name a few. One ounce of pumpkin seed contains 2 mg of zinc.
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts and pumpkin seed oil are all good for diabetes. Pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of magnesium that helps to improve and regulate insulin levels and protects from diabetic risk by decreasing oxidative stress. 2 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds a day is good for diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan which is an amino acid. Tryptophan reduces tension, stress and calms the nervous system. Our body converts tryptophan into serotonin which further converts into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone which creates good sleep. Eating pumpkin seeds at night, a few hours before bed promotes restful sleep.
Pumpkin seeds are an essential natural food for men’s health. Zinc is the significant mineral which has the highest impact on prostate health. Pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds are beneficial in treating enlarged prostate. Phytosterol the active compound present in pumpkin seeds helps to shrink an enlarged prostate.
Pumpkin seeds are magnesium rich food which is important for bone health. The mineral component of phosphorous and zinc which acts as a natural protector and fights against osteoporosis. Consumption of ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds strengthens the bones.
Reduces arthritis inflammation
Pumpkin seeds and its oil contain anti-inflammatory and pain suppressing properties. This reduces pain and inflammation in the joints. Pumpkin seed oil is useful in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
“In a 1995 study published in the journal of Pharmacology Research, pumpkin seed oil was found to be as effective as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis. This study was conducted in rats induced with arthritis, but without the side effects”.
To treat inflammation connected to arthritis, apply pumpkin seed oil twice a day on the affected area and gently massage.
Prevents intestinal parasites
Anti-parasitic properties available in pumpkin seeds helps in destroying the growth of parasites. It can eradicate various types of parasites. It actually does not kill the parasites but stops further growth. Eating pumpkin seeds along with water on an empty stomach for a few weeks clears all intestinal worms.
You can dry roast pumpkin seeds and add it to your daily meals or eat them as a snack.