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6 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Health logoHealth 11-11-2018 Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD

a bowl of food

I love everything about pumpkins, including their seeds. As a kid I loved tearing them out of our carved pumpkins at Halloween, and cleaning them to roast in the oven. But these days it’s easy to find raw, sprouted, and roasted pumpkin seeds year-round.

A one-ounce portion (roughly a quarter cup) provides about 150 calories, 15 grams of healthful fat, just a few grams of carbs, and an impressive 8 to 10 grams of plant protein. They’re also nutrient-packed, and health protective. Here are six key pumpkin seed perks, and some simple ways to incorporate them into your meals and snacks.

High in magnesium and other minerals

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a good source of magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. Magnesium helps improve mood and sleep, while manganese plays a role in collagen production and promotes skin and bone health. Iron and copper are involved with energy production, and iron also helps transport oxygen to our cells. Zinc supports immunity, skin health, and vision. Just one serving of pumpkin seeds can supply 14 to 42% of the daily target for these essential nutrients.

High in antioxidants

In addition to minerals, these mighty seeds are also packed with cell protective antioxidants, including carotenoids and vitamin E. In addition to reducing inflammation, antioxidants help fend off premature aging and chronic diseases.

Full of beneficial fats

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. Only a small fraction of ALA gets converted into the important DHA and EPA omega-3s, which are found in fatty fish like salmon. However, the benefits of ALA include heart disease protection, reduced risk of artery hardening, and anti-inflammation.

Related: 30 ways to boost your immune system (StarInsider)

Control blood sugar

On top of being low in carbs and a good source of plant protein, research suggests that pumpkin seeds help protect against type 2 diabetes or reduce its complications in other ways, such as improving insulin regulation, and protecting organs against the consequences of diabetes.

Improve the immune system

In addition to the zinc and iron in pumpkin seeds, which are both vital for immune function, pumpkin seeds possess anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Pumpkin seeds are also not a common trigger of allergies and intolerances.

Suggested: The 10 Healthiest ‘Superfood’ Seeds (The Active Times)

May improve sperm quality

Research shows that both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil help to protect prostate health. The seeds’ zinc content may also support male fertility, as low zinc levels have been tied to reduced sperm quality.

How to eat more pumpkin seeds

You can sprinkle pumpkin seeds on just about anything, from oatmeal or overnight oats to garden salads, cooked veggies, stir-frys, soups, whole grain dishes, tacos, and of course, desserts. Pumpkin seed butter can also be whipped into smoothies, swirled into yogurt, drizzled over fruit, or used as the base for energy bars or balls.

A few of my favorite brands of ready-to-eat pumpkin seeds include Superseedz, which come in a variety of flavors, like maple sugar and sea salt and coco joe, and Go Raw Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds.

Watch: 10 Processed Foods Dietitians Actually Eat (Cooking Light)

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are the author's own and MSN does not endorse them in any way. Neither can MSN independently verify any claims made in the article. You should consult your physician before starting any weight loss or health management programme to determine if it is right for your needs.

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