Superfood of the Week: Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, and very healthy autumn snack! [Photo via]

I’m not sure what the weather is like for all of my friends across the continent, but I’m happy to report there’s a chill in the air that’s expected to linger until after winter, and I honestly could not be more excited about it. I’m a fall junkie, through and through, and one of my favorite parts of this gorgeous season are the bright orange fruits that decorate the leaf filled landscape. Pumpkins [which are a fruit, did you know that?] are not only a fabulous decoration for fall, a fun activity for Halloween or a perfect Thanksgiving dessert, they contain some of the healthiest little seeds out there in their cores! That’s correct, pumpkin seeds are full of many vitamins and minerals and are known for promoting prostate health and lowering cholesterol, among others benefits!

Men’s Health

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, the carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids that are found in pumpkin seeds are also being heavily studied by cancer researchers for their potential prostate health benefits. Men with higher amounts of carotenoids in their diet have been proven to have less risk for BPH. The level of zinc found in pumpkin seeds has also been linked to better prostate health for men and a lower risk for developing prostate or testicular cancer.

Along with prostate health, pumpkin seeds have been found to improve men’s bone health, especially as they age. 1 in 8 men over the age of 50 will have osteoporotic fracture. A study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a correlation between a man’s level of zinc  and their risk of osteoporosis. Pumpkin seeds contain 20% of our daily intake of zinc, so men, eat up to avoid brittle bones!

High in Vitamins, Minerals and other Good Stuff!

As this this graph dictates, pumpkin seeds are a very good source of manganese and magnesium, as well as zinc, copper and vitamin K. Keeping your levels of magnesium up are imperative to your cellular health. Over 300 enzymes require the presence of magnesium ions in order for them to catalyze. People with low levels of magnesium have a higher chance of developing diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis! And, as mentioned above, low levels of zinc in men have been proven to increase their risk of bone deterioration.

Lower Bad Cholesterol

How to Lower LDL Cholesterol

Diagram courtesy of Hub Pages

This diagram portrays the arteries of someone with high LDL (bad) cholesterol. As you can see, the LDL accumulation on each side of the arteries forms a mound inside the arteries which make it harder for the good cholesterol(HDL) and blood to pass through. This build up can eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack. One way you can prevent the build up of LDL in your arteries is by eating pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds! The phytosterols found in these seeds are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, which can prevent buildup.  Pumpkin seeds have 265 mg. of phytosterols (8.75 ounces), which is the second highest amount in the seeds listed above.

Our pumpkin from last year! Make sure to save your seeds after you are done carving yours this Halloween!

Since a majority of you will be getting pumpkins this year to carve  and bake, make sure you save the seeds for the reasons listed above! Below is a fantastic  recipe, courtesy of Food Network, that give these seeds added fat burning and metabolism revving power due to added spices!

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients

  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chile de arbol powder

Preperation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and toss with the oil, ancho powder, salt, and chile de arbol powder. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information: 190 calories and 5 grams of fat

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