Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are a great source of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, protein, zinc, and iron. They are also rich in essential fatty acids and tryptophan, which make them an effective tool in improving heart health and preventing diseases, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, bladder dysfunction, and anxiety. (Related: Health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds.)
To support heart health, pumpkin seeds work by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol levels, while decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels. As a result, the risk of cardiovascular disease risk is lowered and heart health is enhanced. This benefit of pumpkin seeds may be attributed to their high concentrations of phytosterol, a compound that prevents cholesterol absorption in the intestines. Pumpkin seed oil actually contains a higher level of phytosterols compared to the seed alone. In addition to their heart-healthy benefits, pumpkin seeds play a role in lowering blood pressure levels.
The benefits of pumpkin seeds go beyond heart health. They are also good for the bones because of their high magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc content. In addition, pumpkin seed oil helps relieve inflammation linked to arthritis and related conditions. Researchers from the University of Tennessee discovered that magnesium is important to bone mineral density and preventing osteoporosis. A different study, which was published in Osteoporosis International reveals a significant association between adequate phosphorous and zinc intake and reduced bone fracture risk.
Another benefit of pumpkin seeds has to do with bladder health. Up to 16 percent of aging adults are affected by overactive bladder, which can greatly affect their quality of life. An overactive bladder causes sudden urges to urinate and can cause involuntary urination. Some studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil and extract are effective in improving these symptoms and helping to bring back bladder control.
Pumpkin seeds also improve mood. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, the high tryptophan content of pumpkin seeds help improve anxiety. In the brain, tryptophan is transformed into serotonin, which enhances mood and feelings of well-being.
Here is a guide to roasting pumpkin seeds:
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