The Chewy Nutritious Treat Inside Our Pumpkins
Halloween is around the corner and many of us will soon be purchasing pumpkins, scooping out the stringy innards, and carving our version of a spooky, or kooky jack-o-lantern.
A side benefit of cleaning out a pumpkin is harvesting the nutrient rich treat waiting inside. Pumpkin seeds are amazing storehouses of protein, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They make a diabetes friendly snack by promoting proper insulin, heart, immune system, sleep, and mood functions; for example:
- Laboratory studies with animals suggest pumpkin seeds may enhance insulin regulation and help ward off diabetes complications by diminishing oxidative stress. (Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the presence of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize their harmful effects with antioxidants.)
- The zinc in pumpkin seeds supports a strong immune system, insulin regulation, restful sleep, mood stability, prostate, and eye health. Just an ounce of the seeds contains 2 mg of zinc, a mineral many of us are deficient in owed to mineral-depleted soils, the effects of medications, and/or grain-intense diets.
- Approximately 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium, and just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds gives us almost half our daily recommended serving of this mineral. Magnesium is vital for normal blood pressure, and cardiovascular health. It’s also necessary for bone and teeth formation, RNA and DNA synthesis, and smooth bowel function.
- Both our heart and liver can benefit from the healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber content of pumpkin seeds.
- Inflammation is a suspected culprit in many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and depression, and pumpkin seed oil demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory effects in a laboratory study.
- Pumpkin seeds can help promote a good night’s sleep since they are excellent sources of tryptophan, the amino acid our body turns into serotonin which is subsequently made into melatonin, our sleep hormone.
To get the most benefit from their healthy fats, pumpkin seeds are best eaten raw; however, most of us prefer them roasted. To roast pumpkin seeds, set the oven at no more than 170 degrees fahrenheit (75 Celsius), sprinkle the seeds with a bit of salt, and let them bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.