Don’t throw away these nutrient-dense miniatures

Pumpkin seeds provide nutrition and disease fighting power

Photo : iStock

When you use a pumpkin for any recipe, what do you do with the pumpkin seeds? Nicola Shubrook – Registered nutritionist – tells BBC Good Food that these small, often discarded seeds, are nutritional powerhouses. We have heard pumpkin seeds help improve heart health, and prostate health and protect against certain cancers.
According to BBC, these edible, flat, oval-shaped seeds found at 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, crunchy snack.

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

A 30g serving contains approximately:

• 170 kcal / 704KJ

• 7.3g Protein

• 13.7g Fat

• 2.1g Fiber

• 81mg of Magnesium

• 246mg of Potassium

• 1.98mg Zinc

• 3.0mg of Iron

There are umpteen reasons why you should add a dash of pumpkin seeds to your daily diet, but we shall list only a few here.

Top 5 health benefits of pumpkin seeds:

  1. Diabetics benefit from its blood sugar balancing power: Pumpkin seeds are said to possess hypoglycaemic properties. Several studies have found that supplementing a diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, A study investigating the benefits of pumpkin seeds combined with linseed found they may be helpful in preventing diabetic complications, such as high cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  2. Heart-healthy munchies: Studies show that regular pumpkin seed usage in diet benefits the heart and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The reason could be the ample amount of unsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) present in pumpkin seeds. The oils in pumpkin seeds help improve cholesterol levels and the magnesium in them may help regulate blood pressure. Other studies suggest that pumpkins’ ability to increase nitric oxide generation in your body helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in your arteries.
  3. Has antiageing agents as it is antioxidant-rich: A large observational study found that eating them 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 may help scavenge the free radicals responsible for cell damage. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals.
  4. May reduce cancer risk: It is difficult to say that eating certain foods will guarantee a no-entry to cancer, yet risks of some cancers such as stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers had shown to be reduced when one included pumpkin seeds in regular diet. Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, a plant compound that mimics the human hormone estrogen and can help prevent breast cancer according to one study. Low-calorie: Pumpkin is a source of low-calorie nutrition, which reduces the risk of obesity, a major factor in breast cancer.
  5. May benefit prostate and bladder health: Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder. One study in 45 men and women with overactive bladders found that 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily improved urinary function. Studies have found that the oil from pumpkin seeds, may have the potential to prevent or treat urinary disorders. But health experts say further research is still required to confirm these findings. Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may 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 can promote good digestive health. In many countries, they’re a popular snack that can be eaten either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted. Besides eating them on their own, you can add them to smoothies, use them as an ingredient in baking, sprout them, cook them, and add them to Greek yoghurt and to fruits. Very few people have an allergy to pumpkin seeds, but we suggest you check with your doctor before adding them to your diet.

Disclaimer: 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 a dietician before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.


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