Ten Things You Should Know About Pumpkin Seeds 2
Ten Things You Should Know About Pumpkin Seeds 2
Pumpkin seeds may be so small that you get around 150 of them in a 1oz (28g) serving but they are each a mighty powerhouse of nutrition. This handful of seeds can not only deliver well over ten per cent of your protein for the day but also fibre, unsaturated fats, antioxidants, nine vitamins, and an extraordinary array of minerals in quantities large enough to help create real health impacts. Luckily, they are also a joy to eat.
In terms of the minerals needed in a day that handful of seeds contains almost 60 per cent of your manganese, almost half of your phosphorous, around 40 per cent of your copper and magnesium, 20 per cent of your zinc and over 10 per cent of your iron. That is not to mention smaller quantities of calcium and potassium. The vitamins are B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6, B9 (Folate) as well as C, E and K.
Magnesium has a role in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body and there are few better food sources of it than pumpkin seeds. It is vital for building and maintaining bones and the functioning of the nervous system. It also has a role in controlling inflammation and blood sugar levels. It may be because of magnesium that research has begun to show a link between eating pumpkin seeds and the management of diabetes.
Zinc is important for the functioning of the immune system, for skin health and for vision. An acute zinc deficiency can even affect the sense of taste. In men it also has a role in maintaining the quality of sperm. Iron is vital for the immune system and making the haemoglobin that transports oxygen around the body. Being low in iron can lead to a lack of energy. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and most of it is in our bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is present in a pumpkin seed in five different forms. This may mean there is extra vigour available to fight the free radicals which are a by-product from the use of oxygen in the body and which cause tissue damage and lead to conditions like heart disease. The most readily available of those other vitamins is B3 which has a role in maintaining the nervous system and skin health.
If pumpkin seeds can improve your health and energy levels, they may also help you to sleep. This is because they contain impressive quantities of tryptophan the essential amino acid that is biochemically converted in the body into serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps relay signals from one part of the brain to another. It is believed to affect mood, appetite, sexual desire and particularly sleep. The presence of all that pumpkin magnesium, linked to creating a calming effect, may also contribute to a good night’s rest.
Pumpkins are part of the gourd family which is native to the Americas. Plants were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers and have gradually spread around the globe. Today the biggest pumpkin producers, China and India, between them grow over 10 million tons a year. There are five major varieties now grown around the globe. The raw seed in Grape Tree stores is a variety known as GWS, Grown Without Shell. It is farmed specifically for its plump and tasty seeds which do not require the mechanical shelling process that other varieties undergo.
The NHS recommends eating pumpkin seeds. It says that in the battle to lower cholesterol and fight heart disease we should try to replace foods high in saturated fats with small amounts of food high in unsaturated fats like pumpkin seeds. It also stresses the importance of seeds as a source of insoluble fibre which is important in the digestion process. The NHS Choices website even has a recipe for a “grab and go” breakfast bar with pumpkin seeds.
For millions around the world (particularly in the US and Mexico) pumpkin seeds are a snack eaten just as they are. But there is also a vast array of variations on giving them a quick roast. The bottom line (at least on this side of the Atlantic) comes down to popping them in a roasting tray, smearing them with oil and cooking at around 180°C for between 12 and 15 minutes. Extra flavours to be simply mixed in include fennel seed, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, curry powder, cinnamon, ground chives, cumin and even Worcestershire Sauce.
Plant-based food guru Deliciously Ella is a major pumpkin seed fan adding them to quinoa, rice and pasta dishes, mixing them into granola and puréeing them into pesto. “They add an awesome dose of goodness to whatever you’re eating,” she says. Jamie Oliver thinks that throwing away so many fresh seeds when pumpkins are hollowed out at Halloween is “one of the great foodie crimes”. In other kitchens they are baked in cookies and bread, added to energy bars and used as an addition everything from vegetables and soups to porridge.
Browse our range of pumpkin seeds here