Pumpkin seeds are more beneficial to your health, appearance, and weight loss efforts, than you might imagine.
What Are Pumpkin Seeds?
Also called “pepitas,” pumpkin seeds are flat, small, and usually dark green in color.
They are sometimes surrounded by a yellow or white husk. This depends on what variety of pumpkin they come from. There are many varieties of pumpkins, and they produce seeds with or without shells.
Pumpkin seeds have a chewy texture and a sweetish nutty flavor.
They are probably most well known in their roasted form. But they are also an ingredient of other foods and dishes; such as pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, etc.
Pumpkin seeds are sometimes sprinkled over salads or other dishes, to add nutrients and flavor. They are well-known as ingredients of traditional Mexican dishes.
While roasted pumpkins seeds are probably best known as the seasonal Halloween treat, there is absolutely no reason not to eat them throughout the year.
Nutritional Value of Pumpkin Seeds:
Pumpkin seeds provide a wide range of necessary daily nutrients, such as fibers, healthy fats, and proteins. Healthy fats assist the body in weight loss, skin condition, and general well being. Fibers help the body eliminate excess food and waste. Protein is what the body uses to build cells. One of the things that happens to people who don’t get sufficient amounts of protein is that they develop cravings for junk foods which then make them fat and unattractive.
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of minerals – such as magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper.
In as little as a handful of pumpkin seeds, you will receive about half of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, half of the daily recommended intake of manganese, about a quarter of the recommended daily intake of copper and iron, and about a fifth of the recommended daily intake of protein and zinc.
Of course these are not all that is required for a healthy balanced diet. But as a between-meals healthy snack, pumpkin seeds are one of the true treasures that mother nature has to offer.
Other Beneficial Qualities of Pumpkin Seeds:
Pumpkin seeds can also be beneficial for people with high cholesterol levels. Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterols (compounds found in plants similar to cholesterol and active in reducing cholesterol when present in a large quantities), and as such could be part of a low cholesterol diet. Pumpkin also improve the immune system and lower the risks of certain cancers.
Pumpkin seeds should be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. This way, they will maintain their freshness for the longest possible time. After about two months, although they remain edible, they start to loose their freshness. If the seeds start to smell musty or rancid, they should not be consumed.
Preparing Your Own Pumpkin Seeds:
While pumpkin seeds can be bought almost anywhere, it is also possible to make your own.
- Remove the seeds from inside the pumpkin
- Spread them out on a tray, and let them dry overnight.
- Then roast them at a low temperature (70 Celsius/160-170) Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes. Roasting them for a short period at a low temperature preserves valuable healthy oils that will be lost if you roast them at higher temperatures. One can of course also add spices or other flavorings while roasting them, should one wish to do so.
Tips on How to Preserve Pumpkin Seeds:
- Add a pumpkin seeds to mixed salads (they go best with green salads, but others are not ruled out).
- Pumpkin seeds can also be ground up and added to salad dressings.
- I personally like to add a few pumpkin seeds to stir-fry vegetable dishes.
- You can add pumpkin seeds to fruit and nut mixes (trail mix).
- They can be added to corn flakes or other cereals (hot or cold).
- When baking bread, they can be added to the dough.
- Add them to your oatmeal and raisin cookie recipes or to your granola recipe.
Pumpkin seeds are nutritional, inexpensive, and versatile. They can be eaten as a snack, or as parts of salads and main meals. In summary, adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can assist your well-being and health tremendously.