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Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a source of the mineral zinc, and the World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient. While pumpkin seeds are not a highly rich source of vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol, recent studies have shown that pumpkin seeds provide us with vitamin E in a wide diversity of forms. For any fixed amount of a vitamin, we are likely to get more health benefits when we are provided with that vitamin in all of its different forms. In the case of pumpkin seeds, vitamin E is found in all of the following forms: alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol, and gamma-tocomonoenol.
Pumpkin seeds are truly a gift from nature. They don’t just taste great, but can also serve as a healthy protein option too. Keep in mind that raw, organic darkly colored heirloom pumpkin seeds or raw, organic bright green pumpkin seeds will offer more nutrients than other varieties that are salted, roasted or sprayed with pesticides, so be sure you choose the best source.
Best Ways To Consume Pumpkin Seeds
In order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw. If you choose to purchase seeds from a bulk bin, make sure they smell fresh – not musty, spoiled or stale, which could indicate rancidity or the presence of fungal mycotoxins. Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
- Raw nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA -- by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.
- Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
- Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds2 may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health.
- Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
- Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One animal study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.
- Raw, green pumpkin seeds are green because they have a high amount of natural chlorophyll in them. Chlorophyll is found in all green foods, which alkalizes and naturally cleanses the body (no need for a detox here!). Pumpkin seeds offer the most of any seed or nut since they are denser in the green hue, though hemp and even purely raw sunflower seeds are other good sources. Chlorophyll alkalizes the blood, which prevents inflammation that can occur from a high acid diet or other lifestyle factors.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and are one of the best sources in such a small amount found throughout the plant-based diet. Though beans and some legumes are much higher, pumpkin seeds are pretty impressive, offering 16 percent of your daily needs in just 1/4 a cup. Raw, organic pumpkin seed protein powder is even available now, which would be an even denser way to get your fill of iron from this healthy seed, providing 40 percent.
So many health benefits, yet pumpkin seeds do not put a dent in your pocket. Just shell out a few bucks and you can ensure yourself invaluable health benefits with pumpkin seeds.