Some people take three meals a day while some eat small portions after every three hours. Regardless of our eating schedules most of us find ourselves snacking throughout the day or in between meals.
For this reason, it is advisable to find healthy snacks such as pumpkin seeds. Apart from being rich in minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin seeds are easily portable and have a crispy, nutty taste. Plus, the other benefits of pumpkin seeds overshadow its small size.
Pumpkin seeds are flat oval-shaped seeds that have a white outer skin. You can roast pumpkin seeds with spices and oils.
In Kenya, pumpkins also known as “Malenge” are quite popular; most people eat the pumpkin and its leaves. Even though the consumption of seeds is not as high, you can still find them in leading grocery stores and supermarkets.
Pumpkin seeds nutritional values
Pumpkin seeds contain various nutrients that may be helpful to your body. Also, they have other plant compounds (phytosterols) and antioxidants that protect you from free radicals. Below is a breakdown of the pumpkin seednutrition composition per ounce (28 grams).
Carbohydrates: 5 gramsProteins: 7 gramsFiber: 1.7 gramsFat: 13 grams
Pumpkin seeds contain a high percentage of healthy fats. The seeds are also an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids including Omega 3s and Omega 6s. The fatty acids have several beneficial nutrients including tocopherols, squalene, and sterols.
Also, the pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber and can help you achieve your recommended dietary intake.
An ounce (28grams) of pumpkin seeds contains about 151 calories from pumpkin seeds proteins and fats.
Pumpkins also have amino acid glutamate and tryptophan.
Glutamate helps in the synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
The nutritional content of raw pumpkins may slightly vary from that of roasted pumpkin seeds. For example, calories in raw pumpkin seeds (100grams) are 127 while 100grams of roasted raw pumpkins contain 536 calories.
Minerals in pumpkin seeds
Manganese: 42% of the recommended dietary intakeMagnesium: 37% of the recommended dietary intakePhosphorous: 33% of the recommended dietary intakeIron: 23% of the recommended dietary intakeCopper: 19% of the recommended dietary intakeZinc: 14% of the recommended dietary intake.
Pumpkin seeds provide you with the needed mineral support. The seeds are a rich source of copper, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and manganese. It is advisable to eat the pumpkin seeds with their outer shells To achieve maximum zinc benefits. The minerals support various processes in your body including controlling blood pressure, promoting the formation of bones, and regulating blood sugar levels.
Vitamins in pumpkin seeds
Vitamin KVitamin EVitamin B2FolateNiacinThiaminPyridoxineVitamin C
Pumpkin kernels are rich n B-complex vitamins like riboflavin, folates, niacin, pyridoxine, and thiamin. The pumpkin seeds also contain vitamin E which is an antioxidant that protects your tissue cells. The Vitamin K found in an ounce of pumpkin seeds is equivalent to 18% of the recommended dietary intake. Raw pumpkin seeds have a higher composition of vitamin K compared to roasted or baked pumpkin seeds. Vitamin K is essential in the protection of blood cells and contributes to maintenance and growth of your bones.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Below are some of the pumpkin seeds benefits.
1. Promote heart health
Antioxidants, fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6), magnesium and zinc found in pumpkin seeds are good for your heart. Research also shows that Omega 3 fatty acids can help decrease atherosclerosis, triglyceride levels, total cholesterol and enhance endothelial function. Also, pumpkin seeds have a high content of dietary fiber which plays a crucial role in reducing the level of cholesterol in your blood and decreasing the chances of heart disease. Sterols and phytosterols found in the pumpkin seeds kernels help decrease bad LDL cholesterol.
2. Pumpkin seeds can lower blood sugar levels
Antioxidants found in pumpkin seeds help minimize the risk of type 2 diabetes. Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium which also protects the body against the risk of type 2 diabetes. Low magnesium in the body leads to the impairment of insulin secretion.
3. Pumpkin seeds help in digestion
Dietary fiber is right for your body as it promotes digestion. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of fiber more so when they are raw. Fiber also makes you feel full for long and therefore may be beneficial if you are working towards losing some kilos or maintaining your weight.
4. Improved sleep
Are you having trouble sleeping? Pumpkin seeds could be the solution to your problems as they contain tryptophan an amino acid that promotes sleep. Zinc in pumpkin seeds helps in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin that then changes to melatonin which is essential for regulating your sleep cycle. Research also shows that adequate magnesium levels will help you sleep better.
5. Pumpkin seeds help boost your immune system
As a rich source of Vitamin E, zinc and other antioxidants, pumpkin seeds help keep your immune system in check. As such, reducing the risk of chronic fatigue, colds and flu, acne and other harmful free radicals.
6. Promotes bone health
Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium which plays a crucial role in bone formation and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
7. Pumpkin seeds help during pregnancy
Research shows that zinc-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds are beneficial for women during pregnancy. Zinc may also prevent uterine infections.
8. Pumpkin seeds are good for your skin and eyes
Squalene found in pumpkin seeds protects your skin against ultraviolet raysand other radiation exposure. Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and zinc in pumpkin seeds help wounds heal fast. Also, the antioxidants, vitamins A and E prevent free radicals, therefore, reducing the chances of premature aging. Also, some studies show that pumpkin seeds could help you fight acne. Vitamin A helps enhance your vision more so in dim light.
9. Pumpkin seeds have anti-stress properties
Glutamate in pumpkin seeds facilitates the synthesis of GABA which is an anti-stress neurochemical that reduces neurotic conditions such as nervous irritability and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds benefits for men
10. Pumpkin seeds may improve the quality of sperms
The primary pumpkin seeds benefits for men include enhancing sperm quality. Studies have linked low zinc levels to reduced sperm quality and the risk of infertility. The high zinc levels in pumpkin seeds may improve sperm quality. Antioxidants contained in pumpkin seeds promote healthy testosterone levels.
11. Pumpkin seeds promote prostate health
The high zinc content in pumpkin seeds also contributes to prostate health. Research also shows that pumpkin seeds can help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Studies also show that pumpkin seeds may help in minimizing the risks of some cancers including ovarian and prostate cancer. Further, other researches show that pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seeds oil could be useful in the treatment of urinary disorders. Other suggested benefits of pumpkin seeds include helping hair restoration, fighting parasites, improving brain health, reducing the incidence of anemia and minimizing postmenopausal symptoms. Nonetheless, research is still ongoing in these areas.
How to consume pumpkin seeds
Here are suggestions on how you can eat of pumpkin seeds.
Raw pumpkin seeds are very nutritious. Whole raw pumpkins are light yellow or cream-white. These seeds can last for some time when stored in a cool, dry place. The raw pumpkin seeds benefits include high fiber, Vitamin K and zinc content.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
You can roast the whole pumpkin seeds then add salt, lime or chili peppers to taste.
You can mix dried fruits, nuts, and pumpkin seeds to make granola at home.
You can add pumpkin seeds to cakes, bread, biscuits, cookies or other baked foods.
Salads and desserts
You can sprinkle pumpkin seeds over salads. Also, you can incorporate pumpkin seeds in desserts.
You can blend pumpkin seeds to make pumpkin butter.
Add pumpkins to your cerealBoil pumpkin seeds in water and saltCook pumpkin seeds in sauces and soups
There is a probability that someone could be allergic to pumpkin seeds. However, the allergic cases are quite rare compared to other seeds and nuts.Also, if you have kids, you should monitor their eating of these seeds. The pumpkin seeds are very small, and kids can easily swallow them and choke.To avoid the risk of indigestion or stomach upsets after consuming pumpkin seeds, drink a lot of water.
When snacking, always go for an option that gives you maximum nutritional benefits and keeps you full for longer periods. The benefits of pumpkin seeds include high fiber contents, good proteins, antioxidants, and minerals. Other healthy snacks that you may incorporate in your diet include nuts, seeds (sesame, chia), and fruits and vegetables. Remember to consume the pumpkin seeds or any other healthy snack in moderation.
The information above should not serve as a substitute for specialist medical advice or treatment. Instead, all texts, images, and graphics available on this page should be used for general information purposes only.