Healthy Ingredient Spotlight – Pumpkin Seeds
Sometimes referred to as “The World’s Healthiest Food,” pumpkin seeds offer a variety of minerals, including zinc and manganese. So, when you’re in the need of an uplifting snack, reach for those pumpkin seeds and enjoy some of these health benefits:
Lots of Antioxidants
By now you’re probably tired of hearing “it’s full of antioxidants” for every health food, but pumpkin seeds lead the pack. What sets pumpkin seeds apart from other foods high in antioxidants is that they offer a wide variety of antioxidants; including a range of forms of Vitamin E. That extra boost of antioxidants helps your body to restore itself.
Come on, Get Happy!
Pumpkin seeds are full of L-tryptophan to help boost your mood, as well as provide your body with the long-term energy it needs to get through the day without the 2 PM sugar crash.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Antioxidants in pumpkin seeds help to reduce oxidative stress on the body, which can cut down on your risk of certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds also contain cucurbitacins, compounds which can kill cancer cells as well as having anti-bacterial properties. In postmenopausal women, pumpkin sees can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Pumpkin seeds have long been used in alternative medicine (starting with Native Americans) to help fight fungal and viral infections. Most of the anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties found in pumpkins are due to the presence of lignans, chemical compounds found in certain plants.
High in Vitamin K
Raw pumpkin seeds are high in Vitamin K, which helps blood clots form after tissue damage for faster healing and to prevent excessive bleeding after injury.
Fights Menopausal Symptoms
Those pesky hot flashes can be a real pain; so why not try some pumpkin seeds to fight the symptoms? A 2011 study showed that regular consumption of pumpkin seed oil can help reduce headaches, joint pain, and hot flashes – as well as helping to balance mood. But that’s not the only reason, the same study found that pumpkin seed oil also improved good cholesterol levels, and helped to reduce blood pressure. While hulled pumpkin seeds are the easiest to consume, removing the husk can also cut down on Vitamin E levels. Buying whole, roasted pumpkin seeds can make for a tasty snack, while raw pumpkin seeds (shelled) can be added to soups, salads and granolas. You can also buy pumpkin seed oil to add to soups and smoothies.