With Halloween just a couple weeks away, what better way to conclude this three-part series on nutritional seed supplements by carving out some time to talk about pumpkin seeds? One good thing to know about pumpkin seeds right off the bat is that they are alkaline-forming, per care2.com, which means consumption of them can go a long way toward balancing out your body's pH levels in a world full of acidic foods. Think, for example, gooey or hard candy that will make its ways into millions of kids' trick-or-treating bags. Something else of note about pumpkin seeds is that they actually improve with age – the longer they are around and the more they decompose over time, the healthier they become in terms of nutritive value. Also per care2.com, tests conducted at the Massachusetts Experimental Station found that squash and pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months showed a marked increase in protein content. So, got some old pumpkin seeds sitting around? Hang onto them or, better yet, toss them into your mouth right now.
A Brief History of Pumpkin SeedsWe know that flaxseeds have a nutritional history dating back some 6,000 years, but pumpkin seeds may go back even several millennia longer, with such seeds being discovered by archaeologists in Mexican caves dating back to 7000 B.C. They are a trademark of Mexican cuisine and were also very popular in ancient Greece, per care2.com, which is not a surprise considering how they can benefit our health. Speaking of which . . .
Pumpkin Seeds' Health BenefitsWhether freshly bought, aging in a cupboard, or on the verge of total decomposition, pumpkin seeds can benefit your health. These seeds – which are green, flat, oval, and don't come in shells, per healthline.com – provide an abundance of fiber, protein, and healthy fat (omega-3s), with one ounce of pumpkin seeds working out to about 150 calories. Following is a rundown of some of their potential health benefits:
- Loaded with antioxidants. The antioxidants provided by pumpkin seeds include carotenoids and vitamin E, per healthline.com, which can cut down on inflammation and guard cells against the onslaught of noxious free radicals. One study demonstrated how pumpkin seed oil given to lab rats with arthritis reduced inflammation without producing side effects while those rats given an anti-inflammatory drug did experience side effects.
- Enhance prostate and bladder health. These seeds can help reduce or perhaps eliminate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms, referring to an affliction in which the prostate gland enlarges, impeding urination. A one-year study cited at healthline.com involving 1,400 male subjects with BPF found that pumpkin seed ingestion cut down on unwanted symptoms and enhanced quality of life.
- Presence of magnesium. As a rich, natural source of magnesium – as well as several other healthful minerals – pumpkin seeds can contribute to your health with its potential to control blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, form and maintain healthy bones, and regulate the levels of blood sugar, an important benefit, particularly for diabetics.
- Sleep aid. Pumpkin seeds contain L-trytophan, a compound that has been found to promote sleep and also stave off depression. This works because tryptophan, once ingested, is converted into serotonin and niacin, both of which are proven sleep aids.
- Bone health. Another mineral that pumpkin seeds have in abundance is zinc, a deficiency of which has been associated with osteoporosis. That was borne out in a study of 400 men age 45 and over published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, per care2.com.
- Parasites. There is a dearth of scientific evidence to support this claim, but many cultures have used pumpkin seeds as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.