As well as being a delicious snack, pumpkin seeds (sometimes called ‘pepitas’) are packed full of a diverse range of minerals, nutrients and antioxidants not widely found in any other food. They have a sweet, nutty taste and can be eaten raw, shelled or roasted. Once you’ve discovered some of their health benefits, you’ll be keen to get some of these super-hero seeds into your diet!
Magnesium for a healthy heart
Half a cup of pumpkin seeds contains 100% of the RDA of magnesium, which assists in a wide range of vital physiological functions including the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation plus relaxation of your blood vessels and bowel function.
Magnesium is also effective in lowering blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attack and stroke.
Zinc for your immune system
Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of Zinc which supports your body in many ways, including eye and skin health, sleep, mood, immunity and insulin regulation. A Zinc deficiency can lead to increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression and acne.
Vitamin E for healthy blood circulation
Raw pumpkin seeds are a great source of vitamin E, containing 36mg per 100g - which is an amazing 237% of your RDA! Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which maintains healthy muscle tissue and protects your lungs from pollutants linked to heart disease. It also dilates blood vessels and thins your blood, which in turn lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of blood clots.
Enriched with B-Vitamins
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of B vitamins, such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. Niacin helps in the reduction of ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood. Deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to many issues including anemia, fatigue, depression, constipation, poor digestion, heart problems, confusion, poor memory and concentration, poor skin, hair and nails, irregular heartbeat, moodiness, lack of appetite and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds can play an important part in men’s health due to their high zinc content, which is important for the prostate.
Pumpkin seed oil can also be effective towards treating an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Pumpkin seed oil is rich in phytoestrogens, which can lead to an increase in ‘good cholesterol’, along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flushes, headaches, joint pains and other symptoms of the menopause.
They can help you sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan which is an amino acid that your body converts into melatonin; known as the “sleep hormone.” So eating a handful of pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed is a natural way to promote a restful night’s sleep.
How to get more pumpkin seeds into your diet
- Sprinkle on a salad
- Add to home made burgers (either meat or veggie)
- Mix with sautéed vegetables
- Use them instead of, or as well as, pine nuts in a fresh pesto
- Serve them with a cheese platter (along with some grapes, celery and dried fruits)
- Throw a handful into any cereal, hot or cold (they work especially well with muesli)
- Decorate the top of a pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread with them
- Infuse them into your baking (such as bread, cookies and cakes)
- Make your own tasty seed and dried fruit snack mix by combining them with your other favourites such as cranberries, sunflower seeds, raisins, flaxseed, apricots etc.)
- Grind them up with garlic and fresh herbs (such as basil or parsley), then mix with olive oil, lemon juice or cider vinegar and Herbamare® Original seasoning salt as a delicious dressing
- Or just eat a handful of them!
How to roast pumpkin seeds
Although you can buy roasted pumpkin seeds from most supermarkets and health food stores, it’s fun, quick and easy to make your own with fresh-out-of-the-pumpkin seeds (especially if they come from your very own home-grown one).
Here’s how to prepare and roast them to perfection:
- Once you’ve scooped all the seeds out of the centre of your pumpkin, wipe them with a paper towel to remove any excess pulp that may have stuck to them.
- Wash your seeds in a colander and spread them out evenly on paper towel to dry overnight.
- Once completely dry, place the seeds in a single layer, as flat as possible, on a baking tray coated with a thin layer of olive oil or nut oil.
- Toss the seeds to ensure that they are lightly coated in the oil.
- Lightly roast your seeds in an oven pre-heated to just 75°C for 15 to 20 minutes.
- It is important not to exceed the 20 minute roasting time, due to an unwanted change that would occur in the fat structure of the seed, which would diminish the nutritional benefits.
- Let the pumpkin seeds cool completely before eating.
- Add a little salt or Herbamare® Original seasoning salt to taste and ENJOY!