Super food: Pumpkin Seeds

After decades of clinical and epidemiological research, the influence of diet on health and disease, or rather disease risk, particularly chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, Diabetes Type 2, cancer and obesity, has become widely accepted.

The effect of overall dietary patterns on disease risk has become a new approach in nutritional counselling and research. Plant based diets, which contain high amounts of vegetables, legumes and oil seeds, whole grains and fruits and low to moderate amounts of fish, poultry and low fat dairy products, have been associated with lower risk of most chronic diseases and are widely recommended.

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like pumpkin seeds decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.

Benefits of consuming Pumpkin seeds:

  1. Pumpkin seeds have exceptionally high amounts of magnesium, which an essential mineral and just two tablespoons of these seeds will provide about 25% of the daily recommended daily allowance of this mineral. Magnesium helps in relaxation of the blood vessels, proper bowel function and reduces insulin resistance.
    Due to its effects on the blood vessels, it helps in lowering the blood pressure and helps to prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke. As magnesium helps in reducing insulin resistance, it is beneficial in prevention of Diabetes Mellitus type 2.
  2. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc. Zinc is an important mineral which improves immunity, effects sleep, mood, eye and skin health and insulin regulation. Pumpkin seeds being rich source of zinc, when consumed in winter season, protect against cold and flu and improve skin texture. They help improve conditions like chronic fatigue and depression and also help cure acne.
  3. Pumpkin seeds, like many other plant seeds are the best sources of plant based omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). ALA is converted in the human body to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).. EPA ad DHA improve cardiovascular functioning, protect against mental abnormalities such as Alzheimer’s and dementia and also prevent the skin from drying and flaking.
  4. Pumpkin seeds are beneficial for prostrate health due to the presence of high concentration of zinc. Pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostrate hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostrate.
  5. Pumpkin seed oils are also rich in phytoestrogen, (a plant based compound which has similar effect as female hormone oestrogen), which improves HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), thereby lowering blood pressure, hot flushes, headaches and other postmenopausal symptoms in menopausal women.
  6. Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan an amino acid, which is converted in the body to serotonin and then further to melatonin, the “sleep hormone” Eating pumpkin seeds is therefore, beneficial in promoting restful sleep.

Eating pumpkin seeds, provide benefit for liver, heart and bone health. Also, Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects and may be helpful in treating arthritis.

The best way to consume the pumpkin seeds is to roast them lightly and chew them. The roasted seeds can also be lightly powdered and consumed with warm water in the morning, on an empty stomach. These are an excellent in-between meal snack as they are very rich in fiber and antioxidants.

 

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