Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have gained quite a bit of popularity. I remember as a kid the thrill/gross-out feeling of pulling the flesh and seeds out of the pumpkins we carved for Halloween. Mom always had us save the seeds for roasting in the oven.
Did you roast pumpkin seeds as a kid? It’s a wonderful tradition to maintain throughout this fall season.
These delicious seeds can also be enjoyed raw or roasted, unhulled or naked, salted or plain. In any form, they are certainly among the elite of all seeds.
One nutritional element that sets pumpkin seeds apart from their clan is the tremendous amount of protein they offer. At 7 grams per ounce, pumpkin seeds become an important source of plant-based protein.
The seeds are also an excellent source of critical minerals.
Manganese: An important nutrient for bone metabolism, antioxidant function, and cognitive health.
Magnesium: Each ounce of pumpkin seeds offers 150 mg of magnesium, one of the most deficient nutrients in our diets and an underlying problem in multiple health concerns.
Phosphorus, Iron, and Copper: Found in significant amounts, these minerals aid the body’s antioxidant systems, which make pumpkin seeds a good tool for those struggling with anemia.
Zinc: Important for digestion and immune boosting.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds provide a variety of phytonutrients including phenolic acids, carotenoids, phytosterols, and squalene, which are shown to exert numerous therapeutic properties such as:
Blood Sugar Management: It would be wise to include pumpkin seeds as a regular component of any dietary plan aiming to normalize blood sugar levels, due to their hypoglycemic affect.
Cardio Vascular Protection: Pumpkin seeds are useful for combating atherosclerosis and improving other metabolic factors associated with heart health.
When the diets of atherogenic rats were supplemented with pumpkin seeds for 37 days, they showed a 48 percent decrease in total cholesterol and a 79 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol.
Moreover, HDL cholesterol rose significantly with pumpkin seed consumption. Researchers suggested the unique fatty acid composition of pumpkin seeds, which includes palmitic acid and linoleic acid, may explain their positive effect on cholesterol levels.
Wound Healing + Anti-Aging
The oil of pumpkin seeds is a rich source of bioactive components with incredible wound healing properties. When pumpkin seed oil was used on biopsy wounds in rats, findings revealed:
“...full re-epithelialization with reappearance of skin appendages and well organized collagen fibers without inflammatory cells.”
Similar studies, confirm pumpkin seed oil “significantly increases collagen production.”
Much more than a nutritious snack or a holiday treat, pumpkin seeds offer an array of health benefits that puts them at the top of the nuts and seeds list. And they are quite tasty, as is evidenced by the vast variety of autumn recipes that feature these unique seeds, from salads, to soups, to pesto; even breads and muffins, Paleo-style.
So before you throw away those pumpkins, harvest the seeds, and roast them for snacking!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, extra-virgin olive oil, or coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Paprika or cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Scoop out the inside of your pumpkin, and separate seeds from pulp. Don't worry if there's a little pulp left on the seeds when you roast them—it only adds flavor. Pat seeds dry or, for extra crispy seeds, allow to air dry for one to two hours.
In a bowl, toss the dry seeds with the melted butter or olive oil, coating thoroughly. Add salt and any other desired seasonings.
Spread seeds in one even layer across a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown. Stir the seeds every 5 to 10 minutes while they're baking, so that they toast evenly.
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