Why You Should Care About Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin pie gets the spotlight during Thanksgiving and the holidays. While I am a big fan of healthy versions of pumpkin pie (here’s my favorite vegan pumpkin pie recipe) I am an even bigger fan of the pumpkin seeds that are discarded when making pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are actually packed with a lot more goodness than you might imagine and are a strong year-round addition to your diet! Here are a few of the tops reasons (of many) why you should care about pumpkin seeds.
PACK IN THE PROTEIN
One cup of pumpkin seeds gives you almost 12 grams of protein, making these seeds an amazing source of plant-based protein! The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional database shows one cup of roasted pumpkin seeds has 285 calories and 11.87 grams of protein. Some studies show it can be even higher.
Use pumpkin seeds to increase your plant-based protein intake.
BOOST YOUR MOOD
Most of us know that turkey has the amino acid tryptophan, which has a bad rap of making you sleepy. But did you know that pumpkin seeds have it too? First of all, most experts would agree that it is carb-heavy overeating, not than the tryptophan that triggers the post-feasting naps. Secondly, you NEED tryptophan! It helps your body serotonin, one of the major ingredients to a good mood (and it does help you sleep better, which is a really good thing).
Grab a handful of pumpkin seeds and boost your mood!
BETTER WORKOUT RECOVERIES
Pumpkin seeds include potassium. There’s over 500mg in one cup. After a heavy workout, giving your body the additional potassium from pumpkin seeds will rebalance your body’s electrolytes faster. This allows muscles to repair faster and function better. Plus, you can have the pumpkin seeds ready and waiting in your gym back! They are a go-everywhere snack that doesn’t need refrigeration.
Add pumpkin seeds to your post-workout recovery plan.
PROTECT AGAINST CANCER
Like its orange comrades, the sweet potato, carrot, and the butternut squash (to name a few), pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Food sources of beta-carotene seem to help more than a supplement, according to the NIH — even more reason to scoop up some pumpkin today. And the plant sterols, found in pumpkin seeds and other plants, have also been linked to fighting off certain cancers.1
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEART
Nuts and seeds, including those of pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been shown in studies to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol, improving heart health.
Plus, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provides almost half the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which helps control your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke.2
Help your heart out by regularly snacking on pumpkin seeds.
GET MORE OMEGA-3S
Pumpkin seeds are an amazing source of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). You need mega-3s! Studies show omega-3 fats can help prevent heart disease and stroke, play protective roles in cancer and other conditions, and even potentially control chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune conditions such as lupus.3
SUPPORT PROSTATE HEALTH
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil have been very effective is supporting men’s prostate health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate).4 Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.
Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.5
Pumpkin seeds and the pumpkin oil from the seeds can both be helpful.
THE BEST WAY TO EAT THEM
To get the benefits of pumpkin seeds you must use a high-quality source and for optimal benefits you should eat them raw and sprouted! Get organic as well to skip any pesticides or harmful chemicals.
The raw seeds are great in smoothies.
Eating them raw preserves the healthy fats in the seeds that can be damaged by roasting. Soaking the seeds removes the anti-nutrients in them that won’t let your body access the nutrients properly.
Related Reading: Why You Should Be Soaking Your Nuts And Seeds.
Look for organic, raw, sprouted options to get the maximum benefits! I like the Go Raw brand of raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds and Living Intentions pumpkin seeds that you can buy right from Amazon no matter where you live.
You can slowly roast raw pumpkin seeds on low heat (to preserve the healthy fats) in your own oven. Lightly oil with coconut oil or your favorite oil, sprinkle on some Himalayan Sea salt and roast at 150 degrees or lower for about 15-30 minutes. The lower the temperature, the longer you will need to roast the seeds. Stir once or twice, and enjoy!
I eat them by themselves or toss them on salads and soups for some crunch.
WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENT COLORED SEEDS?
The seeds you pull out of the pumpkin will have the white shell around them and are larger. Whereas the seeds you buy in the store will generally be shelled. When a pumpkin seed is shelled, the inner shell-free seeds are oval with a green color.
EAT MORE PUMPKIN SEEDS!
These are just a few of the health benefits you get from eating pumpkin seeds. They are packed with nutrients your body needs, high fiber, and even provide antioxidants. The best part is that they don’t need refrigeration. It makes them perfect on the go snack. I add them to the trail mixes I take on my travels all the time.
Have fun adding these powerful, little seeds to a balanced SuperLife diet! Let me know how it goes! Already have a favorite way to eat pumpkin seeds? Share in the comments below.