Don’t Throw Away These Nutrient-Rich Miniatures

Pumpkin seeds provide nutrition and disease-fighting power

Photo: iStock

When using a pumpkin for any recipe, what do you do with the pumpkin seeds? Nicola Shubrook – a registered nutritionist – tells BBC Good Food that these little seeds, often thrown away, are nutritional powerhouses. We’ve heard that pumpkin seeds help improve heart health and prostate health, and protect against certain cancers.
According to the BBC, these edible, flat, oval-shaped seeds found in the center of the pumpkin fruit should not be discarded when we use the fleshy part of the fruit. Instead, they should be rinsed and roasted, either plain or with other flavors such as herbs and spices to create a delicious crispy snack.

What is the calorie content and nutritional composition of pumpkin seeds?

A 30g portion contains approximately:

• 170kcal / 704KJ

• 7.3g protein

• 13.7 g fat

• 2.1g fiber

• 81mg of magnesium

• 246mg potassium

• 1.98mg zinc

• 3.0mg iron

There are countless reasons why you should add a pinch of pumpkin seeds to your daily diet, but we’ll list just a few here.

Top 5 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:

  1. Diabetics benefit from its blood sugar balancing power: Pumpkin seeds are said to have hypoglycemic properties. Several studies have shown that supplementing a diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder lowers blood sugar in people with type 2. Diabetes. A study looking at the benefits of pumpkin seeds combined with flax seeds found that they may be helpful in preventing complications of diabetes, such as high blood sugar cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  2. Heart-healthy snack foods: Studies show that regular use of pumpkin seeds in the diet is beneficial for the heart and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The reason could be the high amount of unsaturated fats including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in pumpkin seeds. The oils in pumpkin seeds help improve cholesterol levels, and the magnesium they contain can help regulate blood pressure. Other studies suggest that the ability of pumpkins to increase nitric oxide production in your body helps dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of plaque growth in your arteries.
  3. Has anti-aging agents because it is rich in antioxidants: A large observational study found that their consumption was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Researchers have found that pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which can help scavenge free radicals responsible for cell damage. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals.
  4. May reduce the risk of cancer: It’s hard to say that eating certain foods will guarantee a no-go cancer entry, but the risks of certain cancers such as stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers have been shown to be reduced when pumpkin seeds were included in a regular diet. Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, a plant compound that mimics the human hormone estrogen and may help prevent breast cancer according to a study. Low in calories: Pumpkin is a low-calorie source of nutrition, which reduces the risk of obesity, a major factor in breast cancer.
  5. May benefit prostate and bladder health: Pumpkin seeds can reduce symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia and an overactive bladder. A study in 45 men and women with overactive bladder found that 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily improved urinary function. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil may have the potential to prevent or treat urinary disorders. But health experts say more research is still needed to confirm these findings. Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they can improve sperm quality.

The Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds also contain a good amount of dietary fiber — shelled seeds provide 1.1 grams of fiber in a single 1 oz (28 gram) serving (30) — which may support good digestive health . In many countries it is a popular snack that can be eaten raw or roasted, salted or not. In addition to eating them on their own, you can add them to smoothies, use them as an ingredient in baking, sprout them, bake them, and add them to Greek yogurt and fruit. Very few people are allergic to pumpkin seeds, but we suggest consulting your doctor before adding them to your diet.

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

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Richard V. Johnson