Now that we’re into October, many of us are making the necessary trip to a farmer’s market to make that sizable and oh-so-orange purchase: a pumpkin. Soon, we will be carving out a face on that bad boy and placing it in the window as a festive way to greet trick-or-treaters on the 31st. But just as common of a ritual is to scoop out the pumpkin’s seeds and roast them in the oven. This of course begs the question, what are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds? Is there more to them than just enjoying them as a snack with the kids?
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
It will likely not surprise you that yes, there very much are a host of ways we can improve our wellbeing with this holiday treat. Pumpkin seeds have been a staple of various cuisines for centuries, including cultivation across many parts of the world. They have been cited as a folk remedy for dispelling worms (Australian Pumpkin Seed Company, 2010) and reducing prostatic hypertrophy in men (El-Mosallamy, et al, 2012). But there have been several more recent discoveries made as well.
Pumpkin seeds have an enjoyably diverse array of minerals in them, particularly zinc. Eating the whole seed—shell and all—maximizes the intake of zinc (The World’s Healthiest Foods, 2014). Pumpkin seeds also are known to have an abundance of manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, and magnesium. They are a notable source of protein as well.
Also noteworthy are pumpkin seeds’ high vitamin E content. Vitamin E helps with our immune system, and is also necessary for healthy skin. And the benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they provide a variety of different forms of this particular vitamin, including alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol (The World’s Healthiest Foods, 2014). A recent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food cited a correlation between consuming pumpkin seed oil and enjoying antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects (El-Mosallamy, et al, 2012).
There is clearly a lot to be learned about—and enjoyed—in the world of pumpkin seeds. This Halloween, be sure to take advantage of the nutritional bounty your Jack-O-Lantern has to share.
Australian Pumpkin Seed Company (2010). Retrieved from http://www.pumpkinseed.net.au/seedhealthbenefits.
El-Mosallamy AE, Sleem AA, Abdel-Salam OM, Shaffie N, Kenawy SA. (2012). Antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects of pumpkin seed oil. Journal of Medicinal Food. 15(2): 180-9.
The World’s Healthiest Foods (2014). Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=82.