Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are the edible kernels of pumpkin fruit. Pumpkin is a squash like a gourd, which belongs to the Curcurbitaceae family. The fruit is allowed to mature completely to obtain good quality pumpkin seeds. Each fruit contains around 500 creamy white seeds. The whole seed is semi flat and has an oval shape with a conical tip. They are cultivated as a major oil seed crop in Austria and Hungary. The seeds have a creamy flavor and are used widely in the preparation of savory dishes and snacks.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
1. Cardiovascular Health
Pumpkin seeds are heart protective in a number of ways. Firstly, the fiber content may aid in cholesterol reduction, thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, have shown to be heart-protective while the iron content is imperative in keeping oxygenated blood efficient within the vasculature. New research further suggests magnesium may lower hypertension (high blood pressure) and the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).
2. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Pumpkin seeds are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and are known to reduce arthritis pain. Pumpkin seed oil is a good remedy when it comes to treating pain in the joints.
Pumpkin seeds improve the insulin regulation and prevent the diabetic complication by decreasing oxidative stress. The seeds are high in easily digestible protein that stabilizes the blood sugar. The phytochemical compounds present in pumpkin seed oil can also prevent diabetic nephropathy.
4. Prevent Premature Aging
Excessive exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun along with other lifestyle factors can cause oxidative damage. This can result in premature skin aging, thereby increasing the appearance of wrinkles and pigmentation. The antioxidants, vitamins E and A, contained in pumpkin seeds help fight free radical formation and thus, reduce the incidence of premature aging.
5. They Help With Prostate Health
Research suggests that pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be beneficial in supporting prostate health as well as treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Prevention magazine reports that pumpkin seeds have protective compounds known as phytosterols, which might be responsible for shrinking the prostate. They also offer chemicals that may prevent some transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with enlarged prostate.
6. Restful Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.
7. Nutritional Support for Cancer
Let’s be clear that pumpkin seeds are not a cure for cancer. However, it can’t be ignored that research into pumpkin seeds has described positive, nutritional effects for those with breast and prostate cancers. One 2012 study found a significant association between pumpkin seed consumption and promoting breast health. Another study indicated the lignans in pumpkin seeds may offer further breast health support. It doesn’t stop there, yet another study that examined a supplement containing pumpkin seeds reported positive potential for dealing with prostate cancer.
Nutritional Facts of Pumpkin Seeds (1)