Originally published February 17 2011
Pumpkin Seeds - Enjoy this on-the-go snack from nature
by Heidi Fagley
(NaturalNews) Small, chewy and full of nature's balanced nutrition, pumpkin seeds are one of the most delicious and nutritious seeds available. Convenient to pick up in health food stores year round, these nutrient-dense seeds are especially tasty in the Fall when you can roast the seeds from in-season, freshly carved pumpkins. Fun to make and an easy, convenient grab-and-go snack, these delicate seeds are a sure-to-please treat for all ages.
Pumpkins are a part of the gourd, or Cucurbitaceae, family and a type of squash native to North and Central America. Pumpkin seeds were cherished by Native Americans for their healing properties. History has esteemed these seeds for their diuretic properties and their ability to soothe irritated tissues; they are pain eliminators, and they therapeutically expel parasites.
The seeds, which are available throughout the world, are bursting with B Vitamins, and their delicately rich flavor make the perfect accessory to a trail mix or a savory treat by themselves.
Apart from their distinctive taste, pumpkin seeds are also well-known for their high nutritional value. Whether you eat them raw or slow-roasted, these flat green seeds will provide you with enough nourishing energy to sustain your hunger until the next meal.
Packed with protein and a healthy dose of carbohydrates, this low calorie snack provides approximately 10 grams of healthy omega-3 fatty acids in every 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of seed. And since omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development, anyone at any age can benefit.
Seeds straight from your seasonal pumpkin are encased in a white husk that is edible, yet fairly fibrous, so you'll want to chew them well. The shell helps to prevent the fats and oils in the seeds from going rancid. If you do purchase raw seeds from a store, refrigerate them to help keep them fresh.
Just one quarter-cup serving of pumpkin seeds provides your body with almost half the recommended daily value for magnesium, nearly one-third of the daily value for iron, and over 50% of the daily value for manganese.
Rich in vitamins A and E, these small, crunchy seeds are also full of phytosterols. These are compounds found in plants that are believed to support a reduction in blood levels of cholesterol, to enhance the immune response, and to decrease the risk of certain cancers when consumed on a regular basis. Phytosterols can help lower cholesterol and can have amazing anti-inflammatory benefits. Because of the seeds' abundant levels of zinc, consuming them regularly has shown to help protect prostate health in men and bone health for all. The healing properties of the little green seeds, also known as pepitas, have also been recently investigated with respect to arthritis because of their ability to help reduce inflammation.
Deep inside your pumpkin lies a simple snack you can make yourself. Simply cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the pulp. Separate and rinse the seeds and lay them flat on a baking sheet. You do not need to add oil - the seeds will not stick while baking. Sprinkle a little sea salt - and/or cayenne for a little kick - or any other flavoring of choice, and roast slowly in a 175 degree F oven until golden brown. This low temperature will keep the delicate oils from being destroyed and the optional nutrient quality intact.
About the authorHeidi Fagley is a Holistic Nutritionist and has two culinary arts degrees - one in Raw, Living Foods and another in Natural Foods. Educating others about nutrition and the benefits of using whole foods to heal and prevent disease is her passion.
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