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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 and there are a tonne of health benefits associated with eating them.
This handful of seeds can not only deliver well over ten percent 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.
Here’s an overview of the various health benefits associated with eating pumpkin seeds.
Why the NHS recommends eating pumpkin seeds:
The NHS recommends eating pumpkin seeds as they’re a way to lower cholesterol and fight heart disease. They recommend replacing foods high in saturated fats with small amounts of food high in unsaturated fats, like pumpkin seeds. The NHS also stress 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.
A single serving of pumpkin seeds (around 1 ounce or 35 grams/two tablespoons or one handful) will give you:
- 1/5 of your daily requirement for protein
- Over 1/2 your requirement for phosphorous
- Almost 1/2 of your copper and magnesium requirement
- 1/4 of your zinc needs and 16% of your iron intake
Then there’s the fat – the seeds are especially rich in monounsaturated fats like oleic acid that helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. 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.
1. Pumpkin seeds: An outstanding source of zinc
Those zinc levels make pumpkin seeds an outstanding source of this important mineral.
Zinc is vital in creating new cells in the body, processing food, healing wounds and contributing to eye and skin health. It is also one of the reasons that the seeds have been linked to prostate health in men.
Seed extracts have been used in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, the non-cancerous enlargement of the gland in older men. But it is not clear that simply eating seeds has any impact on the condition. Zinc is also a source of antioxidants.
2. Vitamin E & antioxidants in pumpkin seeds
The Vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds that help make them a really significant source of antioxidants. This is because they contain the vitamin in five different forms, two of which have only recently been discovered. It is argued that this range may have special impact on fighting free radicals, those by-products from the use of oxygen in the body which can cause tissue damage and lead to conditions like heart disease and some cancers.
The seeds also contain antioxidants in the form of lignans, the group of chemical compounds found only in plants.
3. Tryptophan: Health benefits of the essential amino acid
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best food sources of tryptophan. This essential amino acid is biochemically converted by the body into serotonin which, as a neurotransmitter, helps relay signals from one part of the brain to another. In this way it is believed to affect mood, appetite, sexual desire and particularly sleep.
For a person weighing 11 stones a one ounce portion of pumpkin seed will provide over half of their daily recommended requirement for tryptophan.
4. Magnesium: building bones & balancing blood sugar levels
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’s 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.
The health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds
All in all, there are an abundance of health benefits that come from eating pumpkin seeds, whether it’s as a healthy snacking alternative or key ingredient in your latest cooking creation, there are a tonne of flavours, recipes and variations you can browse and choose from.