The word pumpkin originated from the word "pepon", which is Greek for large melon." Pumpkins, a versatile vegetable, are grown all around the world, mostly a fall season vegetable, for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes such as animal feed to commercial and ornamental sales. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. They are typically orange or yellow in color and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. Other than its culinary and medicinal uses, it is used as a Jack-O--Lanterns for Halloween decorations and Thanks Giving staple.
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas), are flat, dark green seeds. Some are enclosed in a yellow-white husk, although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without shells. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico.
Subtly sweet and nutty with a malleable, chewy texture, the roasted are one of the most nutritious and flavorful seeds around. While pumpkin seeds are available year round, they are the freshest in the fall (pumpkin season).
So it is easy to add pumpkin during fall to keep our health fit to fight against the diseases, as fresh and cooked pumpkin contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, alpha-carotene, zinc, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, and lutein.
Pumpkin seeds are said to be one of the perfect foods found abundant in nature. They are source of carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. They contain most of the Vitamin B, along with C, D, E, and K. They also have the minerals calcium, potassium, niacin, and phosphorous.
Pumpkins belong to the gourd family. Pumpkins contain an ingredient called cucurbitacin. Seeds from the gourd family have been used for centuries to prevent and treat parasites and kidney problems.
We will see some of the benefits of pumpkin seeds...
1. Pumpkin seeds are source of minerals like magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, iron, copper, protein, zinc.
2. Nutritional Values: Per 100 gm:
Vitamin A: 70 I.U.
Thiamine 0.24 mg.
Riboflavin 0.19 mg.
Niacin 2.4 mg
Calcium 51 mg
Iron 11.2 mg
Phosphorus: 1,144 mg.
Fat: 46.7 gm.
Carbohydrates 15 gm
Protein 29 gm
3. Pumpkin seeds contain high loads of zinc, which is important for preventing testosterone deficiency in men. Zinc is one of the primary nutrient in sperm production and increases sperm count and sperm motility. High zinc levels also reduce the risk of prostate disease and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
4. The amino acid, tryptophan present in pumpkin seeds, can be used by the body to manufacture serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes a calm state of mind and restful sleep.
5. Pumpkin seeds improve bladder function.
6. As they are rich in zinc and calcium, they protect against osteoporosis.
7. They are natural anti-inflammatory agent, i.e., they reduce the inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
8. Pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate, kidney stone formation.
9. Pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
10. They are very effective in treatment of parasites as they contain fatty acids. They are used for treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. Pumpkin seeds and onions mixed together with a little soy milk make a great remedy for parasitic worms in the digestive tract. Research also has shown them to be effective against acute schistosomiasis, a parasite contracted from snails.
11. Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that are useful in reducing the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). So they are very much useful to prevent arteriosclerosis and regulate cholesterol levels.
12. In addition to this, the phytosterols protect against many cancers.
13. A half cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of our daily value of magnesium, which is not easily found in may foods.
14. Pumpkin seeds and husks improve the production of milk in lactating mothers and are utilized to reduce the postpartum inflammation of the hands and feet.
15. Eating pumpkin seeds prevents the heart disease and increase the libido.
16. Eating as little as 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds daily can increase iron levels. So they can be taken as an additional dietary support.
17. The healing properties of pumpkin seeds have also been recently found to help with arthritic related problems.
18. Pumpkin seeds also help to sustain lubrication and boost female sex drive.
19. Myosin, an amino acid which is found in pumpkin seeds, (essential for muscular contractions), is necessary for good sex.
20. Pumpkin seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are the used for production of prostaglandins, hormone like substances, which play a key role in sexual desire and sexual health. These essential fatty acids which are also natural antidepressants help to balance the mind, which is vital for an optimum sex life.
21. Omega 3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory and can be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis and other stiff joint problems. Omega-3 deficiencies can lead to behavioral problems in children, muscle weakness, visual problems.
22. In addition to the above omega 3 fatty acids are very much important for cellular function and many of the systems in the body. Basically keeps our coat glossy and skin clear.
23. Pumpkin seed oil is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Pumpkin seeds are very popular ingredient in the cuisines in many of the countries. Some of the culinary benefits of pumpkin seeds are:
1. We can add these seeds to our favorite salads, soups, sautιed vegetables.
2. We can grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves and mix it with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
3. We can add chopped pumpkin seeds to our favorite hot or cold cereal.
4. We can also make use of pumpkin seeds by adding it to oatmeal raisin cookie.
5. We can also sprinkle them in burgers.
6. We can even add seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder or salt and pepper for extra flavor.
7. Pumpkin seed oil has a nutty taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and is useful in salad dressing when combined with honey or olive oil.
We can even prepare our own pumpkin, which is least expensive. The procedure for baking pumpkin seeds is as follows:
1. First we have to scoop out the seed from inside the pumpkin.
2. Using a paper towel, lightly pat the seeds and remove any excess pulp.
3. Spread seeds evenly on a paper bag and dry them overnight
4. Preheat the oven to 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Now your delicious nutty pumpkin seeds are ready to use.
How easy to make these delicious nutritious seeds, is it not?
Pumpkin seeds are not a commonly allergenic food and so can be taken by people of all ages.
Because pumpkin seeds and good health share such an important relationship, plan to make pumpkin seeds a regular part of your diet. For having the maximum nutritional benefits, it is always better to eat the seeds raw.
CAUTIONS IN USING PUMPKIN SEEDS:
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil might cause upset stomachs.
Roasted seeds contain damaged fat that can lead to plaque in the arteries.
So consuming some amount of raw pumpkin seeds will improve our life style in a healthier way. Shall why don't we give it a try?
About the author: Bhavani Raman, a successful ex-student of Enoma, is working as a family and Juvenile counselor. She was also working as a medical transcriptionist and is also a pursuing a diploma on food and nutrition. She enjoys reading books, meditation, meeting people, spending time with her family and friends and also a Reiki practitioner.