As I’ve studied nutrition with various programs and institutes, I’ve seen how important it is to find little things we can add to our diets to improve health and target certain conditions and disorders. As the adage goes, “Food is medicine.”
And while I’m not a proponent of the attitude of “superfoods” (these are typically gimmicks that don’t live up to their potential), I would have to say that pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – are one of those things you can add easily to about anything for a health boost, making them a sort of superfood.
And since many of us can grow our own pumpkins, we can add these amazingly nutritious seeds inexpensively, too.
Pumpkin Seeds Health Benefits
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are a healthy, nutrient-dense food that provides specific nutrients we’re looking for to aid in a healthy diet and are packed with tons of other benefits to help specific conditions and aid in preventative healthcare.
They’re High in Antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds contain carotenoids and vitamin E, which are antioxidants that help protect the cells of the human body from harmful free radicals. They’re also great for helping reduce inflammation. It means pumpkin seeds are great for folks who have arthritis and similar inflammatory conditions, as well as those who have a history of cancer or family history with these conditions.
They’re Packed With Nutrients
Pepitas are also packed with nutrients we all need for the daily, healthy functioning of the body, whether that’s bone health or blood sugar levels at lower numbers.
Per 1-ounce serving, pepitas contain:
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Vitamin K: 18% RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)
- Protein: 7 grams
- Omega-6 (amino acids): 6 grams
- Phosphorus: 33% RDI
- Magnesium: 37% RDI
- Zinc: 14% RDI
- Manganese: 42% RDI
- Iron: 23% RDI
- Copper: 19% RDI
They May Help Lower Your Risk for Cancer and Bladder Disorders and Diseases
Because of all those nutrients and that much-needed fiber, pumpkin seeds are believed to help reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as stomach, colon, prostate, breast, and lungs. They also may help relieve symptoms of prostatic hyperplasia and other bladder/urinary conditions.
They May Help Improve Heart Health
Specifically, antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and Omega-6 fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds are known to help heart health and lower your risk for heart disease. And pumpkin seeds are packed with these nutrients. They can reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol and improve HDL levels. They’re specifically a great source of magnesium and phosphorus, some of the harder to get nutrients for most of us with a standard Western diet.
They Can Help Lower Your Blood Sugar
Pumpkin seeds have also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels for people with Type II diabetes. It is believed to be the case because of the high magnesium content and similar nutrients that help with this regulation. Admittedly, more research is needed in this area, but thus far, studies have shown promising results.
For An Easy Health Boost, Go With Pumpkin Seeds
Apart from the listed benefits above, the nutrients packed into these little green seeds can help improve your sleep, help reproductive health, and so much more. A handful of pumpkin seeds can help reduce your risk for chronic disease, bad cholesterol, improve your prostate health and provide essential nutrients you need each day.
There’s no reason I can think of for not adding some of these delicious seeds or some pumpkin seed oil to your balanced diet. So, whether you’re going to grow and roast your own pumpkin seeds or purchase some from Wal-Mart, you can’t go wrong with these nutrient-packed salad toppers and snacks.
For all the benefits, enjoy roasted pumpkin seeds or raw pumpkin seeds in salads or nosh on a quarter cup as a delicious snack – with or without some dried fruit in trail mix.