The vast majority of people associate pumpkins with autumn and Halloween. There are plenty of great recipes that include this delicious ingredient. Pumpkins are rich in fiber and a great number of essential nutrients. Many people know this and understand that this plant is a welcome addition to any healthy diet. However, pumpkin seeds are often ignored in favor of the fleshy shell.
This is a huge mistake as pumpkin seed benefits are just as numerous and important for your health. They are not only good for your body, but delicious as well, like all edible seeds are. Cooking them will take very little time, and you’ll be able to make a great snack that is easy to carry in your bag. The seeds possess very distinct sweet buttery flavor and can be used in many dishes. All in all, there should always be a place for pumpkin seeds in your kitchen.
Are Pumpkin Seeds Healthy?
Yes, they are indeed. You’ll be able to appreciate this food more when you know exactly what health benefits it provides:
- Pumpkin seeds are a unique antioxidant.
Seeds and grains are rich in antioxidants, which is one of the reasons these foods are considered to be so good for your health. However, pumpkin seeds take a special place among them due to the sheer variety of the antioxidants they contain. They can provide you with the most efficient fighters against free radicals, namely vitamin E, zinc, manganese, phenolic acid, and many others. The seeds contain various forms of these elements, which increases the absorption rate. Therefore, you actually get more antioxidants from this food than from any other seed.
- They provide you with a huge amount of essential minerals.
Pumpkins absorb all the nutrients the soil has to offer. This makes this particular plant one of the best food sources of essential minerals. The seeds absorb a great deal of them, so they are even better than the flesh of the plant in terms of nutrition. The most special of the mineral-related pumpkin seeds benefits is the fact that they are exceptionally rich in zinc. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends this particular food as the best natural source of zinc. It’s difficult to obtain this element from food, so you definitely should include these seeds into your diet if you don’t want to take any supplements.
- They kill microbes.
Pumpkin seed oil and extracts possess very potent anti-microbial properties. Many of the elements the seeds contain offer powerful anti-microbial or anti-viral benefits. Therefore, consuming them regularly will help protect your body from many diseases. The seeds alone won’t be enough to make any significant changes when you already suffer from a virus, but their addition to your diet will definitely augment the treatment program.
- Pumpkin seeds help fight diabetes.
Please note that so far there isn’t enough evidence to prove that this food can treat diabetes in humans. However, many studies on animals show very promising results. The seeds are considered an efficient tool for both prevention and treatment of this disease. They improve insulin regulation and relieve some of the stress from the patient’s kidneys, thereby reducing some of the nastiest symptoms of diabetes, namely kidney problems and hypertension.
- They reduce the risk of cancer.
Due to the extraordinary antioxidant properties of pumpkin seeds, this food can be considered an effective tool for cancer prevention and even treatment. The seeds contain lignans, a special kind of phytonutrient that is believed to reduce the risk of this dreadful disease. Some studies prove that this is indeed true, especially where breast and prostate cancer are concerned.
- They help treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BHP).
BHP is a condition characterized by the enlargement of the prostate gland. It mostly affects middle-aged men and is not life-threatening. According to some studies, the phytosterols from pumpkin seeds have a strong positive effect on this condition. However, you should note that the research conducted in this area was focused on extracts and oil derived from the seeds. Therefore, there is no telling whether eating the seeds on a regular basis will be enough to get any significant effect.
- They strengthen your heart.
A quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds can provide you with almost half of the necessary daily dose of magnesium. This particular mineral plays an extremely important part in many processes within your body, including the synthesis of DNA and RNA. One of the most important of its functions is to keep your heart healthy and strong. Due to their high content of magnesium, pumpkin seeds reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest.
How to Cook Pumpkin Seeds
There are plenty of pumpkin seed recipes you should definitely try. However, the easiest way to make them into a tasty snack is roasting or baking. Here is one of the methods you can use to cook this simple, but highly nutritious snack:
- Clean the seeds.
Wash them with cold water. Don’t blot the seeds with paper towels as this will only result in a mess because the paper will stick.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and dry the seeds.
Spread wet clean seeds in a single layer atop an oiled baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 30 minutes so that they can dry thoroughly.
- Add some spices.
Take the seeds out and sprinkle them with olive oil and spices of your choosing.
- Your snack is ready.
Extracting seeds from a whole pumpkin is a tedious task, so it’s best to buy them pre-packaged. Premium quality seeds (both organic and ordinary) are available here. In this form, pumpkin seeds are available all year round.
Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for the seeds to remain fresh longer. This way, they can last for several months.