Pumpkin is commonly available all over India and many other countries. But did you know, even Pumpkin seeds are edible and can impart amazing benefits. Pumpkin also known as ‘Kaddu’ in hindi belongs to Cucurbitaceae plant family. It is a very common vegetable(which is basically a fruit) in Indian Kitchens and consumed as a main course or a dessert.
Benefits of Pumpkin seeds are known from ages but still need more attention from millennial. These all small packs of natural power and nutrition booster rich in fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres.
How To Eat Pumpkin Seeds :
Next time whenever you bring pumpkin don’t throw the seeds. Collect, wash and dry the seeds. Here are different ways to eat the pumpkin seeds –
Raw or Roasted with outer shell :
Some people prefer to eat straight from the pumpkin and get all the nutritional benefits. Although it doesn’t taste best when raw. But if roasted well, the seeds taste well with the outer shell also. Roasting also makes it crunchy and easy to bite.
Roasted without shell :
You can crack the outer shell of the pumpkin seed by your teeth and take out the seed. Roast them in with some olive oil and enjoy as a snack. Add salt if you like. Seeds without shell are also available in the market and will make job easy.
Boiled seeds :
It is best to collect the seeds and boil in a pan. For 1 cup of seeds add 4 cups of water and 2 tea spoon of salt. Boil it for 10 minutes and drain in a colander. Boiling also remove the outer shell of the seeds which can be separated. Let the seeds dry. Now bake the seeds in oven or over the cook top. Roasting time depends on the size of the seeds.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
1. Prostate Treatment :
Pumpkin seeds are rich source of Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium. Lower level of selenium can lead to enlarged prostate while zinc enables the testosterone. According to USDA Per 100 gm of pumpkin seeds contain 550 mg of Magnesium(155% of daily value required) and 7.64 mg of Zinc(80% of daily value required). Just eat handful of roasted, raw or sprouted seeds of pumpkin to promote male reproductive health.
2. Improves Immunity :
Higher zinc level in pumpkin seeds help to improve immunity, heals wounds and supports normal growth. It is better to add these seeds in your daily diet as a snack, in smoothies or salad.
3. Good for heart :
Pumpkin seed nutrients help to reduce blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL). Additionally high level of antioxidants, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids supports your heart health. Eat handful of seeds as a snack or an ingredient to your main dish.
4. Pumpkin seeds for Sleep disorders :
Pumpkin seeds not only improves sleep but also help to treat depression. According to research per 100gm of pumpkin seeds have 4.43mg of Niacin (30% of daily value required) which is essential in creating the neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as ‘Happy Hormone’). Correspondingly serotonin helps in regulating mood and help on production of melatonin (sleep Hormone).
5. Pumpkin seeds as Vermicides :
Pumpkin seeds has been used as antihelminthic (antiworm) from ancient times. It is believed that an amino acid cucurbitacin present in pumpkin seeds paralyse the intestinal worms and furthermore help to expel the worms from the intestine.
Blend one cup of raw pumpkin seeds(130 gm) in to fine paste and mix it with a glass of milk (coconut milk works great) and drink it empty stomach in the morning. Do not add any sweetener to the mixture as it can promote worm growth.
6. Pumpkin Seed Oil For Arthritis :
Pumpkin seed are rich in antioxidants and in addition to that its oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Essential fatty acids present in these seeds act as lubricant to inflamed. (2)
7. Prevents post-menopausal symptoms :
Pumpkin seeds oil have phytoestrogens (plant based oestrogens) which mimic the estrogen (female sex hormone) and reduce the post-menopausal symptoms. In addition to that higher zinc level in the oil of these seeds help to reduce post-menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, headache, vaginal dryness, joint pain and insomnia.
8. Improves Vision :
Pumpkin seeds are rich source of zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta-carotene, Leutin and Zeaxanthin which protects eye as well as help to impart proper vision. Zinc facilitate vitamin A to travel from liver to retina which sequentially create melanin (pigment that protects eye and impart colour to the eye).
9. Lower bad(LDL) cholesterol :
Pumpkin seeds have substantial amount of fatty acid omega-3 and omega-6 and are equally beneficial in lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). Phytosterols (plant compound similar to cholesterol) present in these seeds are potent in reduction of bad cholesterol. In addition to that Physterols help to reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol (LDL) from your diet.
10. Nutrition booster :
Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouse wrapped in small packets. It is a good source of plant based proteins which help as a building block of the human body. Similarly high amount essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are good for the heart health.
Furthermore, antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E variants help to reduce free radicals, provide moisture to the skin and keeps you young. Not to miss higher zinc level act as an immunity booster while magnesium regulates normal muscle and nerve function. Folate present in these seeds is precursor of genetic material(DNA) and other essential amino acids. Therefore, apart from normal people pumpkin seeds are good source of nutrition to pregnant women.
11. Prevent breast cancer :
Pumpkin seeds are the suggested super food to prevent breast cancer due to its nutritional compositions. Food rich in Phytosterols like pumpkin seeds and flax seeds are associated with reduced breast cancer risk. It is best to eat lightly roasted pumpkin seeds or add cold pressed pumpkin seed oil in your diet.
12. Pumpkin seeds for Bladder health :
Water soluble extract of pumpkin seeds is a potential ingredient to treat over active bladder. Firstly, it helps production of testosterone which in turn strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Women after childbirth have week pelvic floor muscles and often complain of passing urine (in small amount) during exercise, sneezing or suddenly getting up from chair.
Secondly, it helps to increase nitric oxide. Whenever bladder is full, it requires nitric oxide to release the bladder muscles. Insufficient nitric oxide leads to hyperactivity of bladder and leads to urge to urinate again and again. Pumpkin seeds have been used from centuries in different parts of the world to treat bladder problems.
13. Treats Anemia :
Pumpkin seeds are good source of iron. Per 100 gm of pumpkin seeds provide about 110% of Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Iron. Higher folate level produce more red blood cells . Other nutritional ingredient of these seeds help to eliminate the symptoms of anaemia like fatigue, dark skin etc.
14. Good for brain:
Omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in healthy brain function. In addition to omega-3, pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants that protect body and brain from free radical damage. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in micro nutrients like Zinc, magnesium, iron and copper which are important for brain function.
Side Effects of Pumpkin Seeds :
1.Not For Infants :
Pumpkin seeds are rich in dietary fibres, iron, magnesium and fatty acids. Infants find it difficult to digest complex food and can result in cramps, stomach pain and diarrhoea.
2. Gaining Weight :
People trying to loose weight should eat pumpkin seeds in limited quantity. It can lead to weight gain. It is ok to consume it as a light snack but over consumption should be avoided. 100 gms of pumpkin seeds provide about 600 calories and 50 gm of fat. Plan your diet considering the nutrient value of the seeds.
3. Allergy :
Pumpkin seeds have reported few allergic cases. But it can lead to allergic reaction mainly affecting the skin like eczema or itching rashes. Other allergic reactions like allergic asthma, breathing problems, headache, throat congestion, swelling and redness around the mouth have also been reported. Caution should be taken while consuming initially to rule out any allergic conditions.
4. Not for Pregnant and Lactating women :
There is no scientific evidence of seeds affecting pregnant or lactating women. To be on the safer sides its better to avoid any kind of complex foods like pumpkin seeds during pregnancy.
5. Not for Low Blood Pressure Patients :
Food rich in antioxidants have blood pressure lowering properties. Consult your doctor before consuming seeds in such cases. However, it beneficial in case of hypertension.
Pumpkin seeds should be consumed in food quantities. Excessive consumption can lead to weight gain. People on any kind of medication should consult their doctor to avoid any complications.
All the remedies given above are for the purpose of knowledge only; it is neither to be construed as a diagnosis or treatment, nor to be considered as a substitute for medical care from a doctor. Better to consult your doctor before trying these natural remedies.