PUMPKIN SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas offer an impressive range of health benefits.They are the edible seed of the pumpkin. These are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, and have a long tradition of use dating back to the Aztecs. The Mexicans generally use the seeds as a snack food and pumpkin is still very much a key ingredient in the late October festival Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where it is served in savoury dishes like moles (molays) and tamales or can be made into hyper-sweet confections. They are now, of course, widely available all over the world. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, phosphorus,manganese,magnesium, iron, fibre, protein and much more.

Immune Health

Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants that protect against cell damage and strengthen the immune system. Being a good source of magnesium, potassium, zinc and vitamin E, these seeds can contribute to healthy blood vessels, fight viruses and help wound healing.

Bone Health

Pumpkin seed are a great source of protein and magnesium which are both crucial to maintaining bone density to prevent osteoporosis, in post menopausal women in particular.

Digestion and Weight Management

Pumpkin seeds being a great source of fibre, protein and unsaturated fat ensuring you to feel full for longer, helping to maintain a healthy weight, balancing blood sugars and improving digestion.

Sleep and Mood

Pumkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan converts to serotonin (the “feel good” hormone), helping to lift the mood. Serotonin also converts to melatonin (the “sleep” hormone). Consuming pumpkin seeds before bed can improve sleep quality.

Sexual, Prostate and Urinary Health

As Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc which increases testosterone which benefits male fertility. A 2018 study found that zinc increases quality and quantity of sperm and the normal function of the prostate. Another study in 2019 found that pumpkin seed extract could be useful for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a type of prostate enlargement causing increased frequency, urgency and difficulty in urination.

Heart

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an essential omega 3 unsaturated fatty acid found in pumpkin seeds. ALA is thought to decrease the risk of heart disease by helping to maintain normal heart rhythm and pumping. Omega 3s can increase nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels; reducing blood pressure, circulation problems and reducing cholesterol in postmenopausal women.

Phytoestrogens

These are natural compounds found in some foods that help to modulate the hormone oestrogen. Phytoestrogens including pumpkin seeds have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women in a 2012 study.

Simple ways to include pumpkin seeds in the diet

Dry fry a couple of handfuls of seeds on a pan. Toss them around occasionally. Just as the start to ‘pop’ drizzle in a little Biona coconut aminos/ Biona tamari sauce/ Biona soy sauce. Pour into a bowl to cool. These are a delicious snack for when you’re out and about. They can be added to salads for a little salty crunch. Or tossed over a stir fry as a tasty garnish.

Pumpkin seeds can be added to bread mixes, granola/muesli recipes, or sprinkled over your morning porridge.

Pumpkin seed oil is delicious in a salad or taken off the spoon as a vegan source of omega 3 and for the health benefits listed above.

Blog by our Nutritional Therapist Wendy Moxley