Pumpkin seeds are pretty much a perfect food. They contain all the macro nutrients of fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the perfect ratios needed to keep blood sugar stable and give you a slow release of energy. They also pack a high nutritional punch with their vitamin and mineral content and in this post we will discuss the pumpkin seeds top 10 health benefits.
Pumpkin seeds are super versatile!
We have been eating raw seeds for nutrition since we evolved millions of years ago, therefore they are the perfect paleo food and your body will just love them. Add them to anything: they are great in smoothies, on your morning cereal, added as a crunchy topping to soup and salads, or just munch them as a snack any time of day and get yourself a low GI energy boost.
These yummy green seeds from the pumpkin are best eaten raw as heat treatment will not only destabilise their lovely healthy omega fats, but will also destroy many of the nutrients and antioxidants.
Before we start on the pumpkin seeds many benefits here is a breakdown of all the goodies inside just one portion (which equates to about 28 grams – or a handful).
NUTRITIONAL PROFILE AND RDA PER 28 GRAMS OF RAW SHELLED PUMPKIN SEEDS:
- Magnesium – 37% RDA
- Manganese – 42% RDA
- Zinc – 14% RDA
- Iron – 23% RDA
- Phosphorus – 33% RDA
- Copper – 19% RDA
- Vitamin K – 18% RDA
Fiber and Macro Nutrients:
- CARBOHYDRATES – 5 GRAMS
- FAT – 13 GRAMS
- PROTEIN – 7 GRAMS
- FIBER – 1.7 GRAMS
PUMPKIN SEEDS – TOP 10 HEALTH BENEFITS
1. HIGH IN POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANTS
Pumpkin seed’s antioxidants of vitamin E and carotenoids help slow down the aging process both inside and out – which in turn may lower your risk of many modern day diseases and illnesses. Antioxidants help neutralise the free radical damage inflicted on our bodies through environmental toxins, junk foods, trans fats, sugar, smoking and alcohol.
Antioxidants are anti inflammatory:
Antioxidants by their very nature are usually anti inflammatory and chronic inflammation is now being hailed as one of the pre-cursers to diseases such as Parkinson’s, some cancers, asthma, allergies, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants such as colourful fruits and vegetables will not only make you look a million bucks on the outside, but will be doing you an even bigger favour on the inside. Please read here about the highest antioxidant rich foods and start adding them to your diet every day to reap all of these benefits and more.
2. REDUCED RISK OF CANCER
Pumpkin seeds may lower your risk of prostate, colon, stomach, lung, and breast cancer specifically (especially in post menopausal women).
Studies suggest this is due to the ligons in pumpkin seeds – ligons are certain chemicals found in plants that help with hormone balance, hence the reason why they may be protective against breast cancer.
3. A GOOD SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
The pumpkin seed’s outstanding feature is its magnesium content. In fact it is one of the best natural sources of this vital mineral and is needed in the body for over 600 chemical reactions, and it so happens that many of us in the western culture are chronically deficient.
Low magnesium levels can cause these problems:-
- Mental problems such as anxiety, depression and irritability
- Muscle and body aches, pains and spazms – back pain
- Thyroid disorders
- Coldness of extremities such as feet, hands, and nose
- Sugar cravings
- Dental problems
- Kidney Stones
- Gut and stomach problems
3. HEART HEALTH
Obviously we all need a healthy heart ticking away inside us and pumpkin seeds contain all the elements to keep yours in tiptop condition, such as antioxidants, EFFA’s, zinc and magnesium.
All of these nutrients combined help lower blood pressure and boost good LDL cholesterol levels; for this reason alone it’s certainly worth adding a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds to your morning cereal.
4. WEIGHT LOSS
Yep, I said weight loss – even though pumpkin seeds are high in fat they have a very low GI of 10 out of 100. Glycemic index is a measurement for food products that tells you how fast a particular foods sugars/carbs are released into the bloodstream. The lower the GI the better for weight loss purposes – but low GI eating is also pretty vital to everybody as high GI foods are associated with diabetes, obesity, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
Being as pumpkin seeds score low on the glycemic index scale they are a perfect weight loss snack, but MUST be eaten in moderation and not with abandon as this generous rule obviously has its limits. Eat any weight loss foods in moderation and always count them towards your daily fat/carb/calorie load, this way you will be sure to lose the excess pounds.
Other weight loss foods:
For weight loss purposes adding just one food into your daily diet probably won’t be enough to make a difference. There are many other fat burning foods that you should and can easily incorporate into your diet, and when eaten in moderation every day really do work!
5. BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
This leads me on to the next major benefit of pumpkin seeds as not only are they low GI, making them great for weight loss, blood sugar control, and type 2 diabeties, but their high magnesium content has a double whammy effect on these conditions, elevating them to super food status.
A study involving 27,000 people discovered that those eating magnesium rich diets had a 33% lower risk of diabetes. That’s just the effects of the magnesium alone, without the other major benefit of blood sugar control due to the pumpkin seed also being low GI.
6. SPERM QUALITY
One for the guys here: everything about pumpkin seeds is good for sperm as they are high in zinc, antioxidants, and lots of other specific nutrients that contribute to sperm quality and healthy testosterone levels.
Make sure you pack some pumpkin seeds in his lunchbox ladies, especially if you are trying to become pregnant and also to help you have bouncing healthy babies!
The magnesium in pumpkin seeds is great for relaxing muscles, calming nerves, and ultimately helping you to sleep. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan which converts to serotonin, in turn converting to the sleep hormone melatonin.
Sounds complicated but the bottom line is we need our melotonin hormone to kick in in order to get a good nights kip. And being as so many of us are so deficient in magnesium it makes sense as to why most of the general population are just not getting the good quality sleep they desperately need – the kind that is needed in order to live a wonderful life full of vitality.
Other sleep inducing foods:
You would however need more than one serving of pumpkin seeds to reap the full benefits, which is why if you have problems with sleep it is good to add other sleep inducing foods such as miso, wholegrains, broccoli, lettuce, bananas, cherries and almonds.
There is no need to just stuff these in last thing at night, you can eat them all day long and the effects will come together when your body is ready to sleep. Fear not, eating these foods in the day won’t actually make you fall asleep at the office desk but will just make you feel more calm relaxed.
8. ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, AND CHRONIC STRESS
All of these problems can literally ruin your life. Depression I know from bitter experience, is probably the worst and when you’re hanging out there in the dark it can be hard to know what to do and where to turn. It is vital you understand the benefits of good nutrition and exercise to help fight these mental disorders.
Vital nutrients are needed to combat depression and anxiety:
Pumpkin seeds, due to their high magnesium and mineral content, plus their low GI rating, are just one fantastic food out of many that you can add to your diet if you want to ease depression and anxiety. This, along with a low GI diet in general, omega 3 fish oil supplements, and CRUCIALLY a good exercise plan, preferably with some kind of weights or resistance training, will most definitely help.
Do specifically resistance training!
I say resistance/weight training specifically because this type of workout will release a cascade of feel good endorphins into your system more quickly than anything else – and is the first thing I do if I ever feel my depression trying to sneaking up on me. It literally stops it in its tracks!
If you’re suffering depression and anxiety you will benefit immensely from these things alone – this cannot be stressed enough, and you should take steps to make yourself follow these instructions no matter how much you don’t at first feel like it!
To recap – do these 3 things:-
- Low GI diet
- Omega 3 fish oil supplements (at least 3,000mg daily if things are really bad, or find what works for you)
- Weight bearing exercise/resistance training
9. GUT PROBLEMS
The fiber content in pumpkin seeds as in other high fiber foods, is extremely good for digestive health and the gut in general. Fiber keeps the colon healthy and keeps everything running smoothly, and also drags all the toxins and impurities out of your system which will contribute to a beautiful glowing complexion.
keeping the body detoxified with high fiber foods and other detoxification foods is the cornerstone of good health and a strong immune system. When you have that then you have it all in health terms as a strong immune system keeps you thriving and well.
10. EASY TO ADD INTO YOUR DIET
Pumpkin seeds have the major plus of being highly transportable for on the go snacks, anytime, anywhere, and they can easily be added into most meals. Add them into your breakfast muesli or oatmeal, baking, onto salads, or anything else you can think of, just use your imagination. They have a savory taste that goes with everything AND they are yummy to boot!