Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are native to the Americas. They were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico that date back to 7,000 B.C.
Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country. India, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, and the U.S.A. are also major producers.
Nutrition & HealthSeeds are a nutrient-dense food so just by adding a little bit to your diet, they can contribute to a wide range of potential health benefits. They are naturally cholesterol free, gluten free, low in saturated fat and are a low glycemic-index food. They are good sources of fiber, antioxidants, phytosterols, heart-healthy fats, plant protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin seeds particularly are:
A Rich source of Zinc
These seeds have long been valued as a source of the mineral zinc. The World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient.
Zinc is important to your body in many ways especially in immunity as well as cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function. The zinc content in these seeds has been associated with prostate health & treating BPH, or enlarged prostate.
An Excellent Source of Heart-healthy Magnesium
30 grams (3 tablespoons) provides more than half of the recommended daily intake. This mineral participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels.
A Good source of plant protein - particularly triptophan
One serving offers almost 10 grams of protein, nearly 20 percent of the daily recommended dose for women - a great plant-based protein source. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, which is an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the "sleep hormone". Along with zinc and magnesium, tryptophan helps promote good sleep.
Loaded with antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients, including the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic and syringic acid; and the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol and lariciresinol. It's thought that this unique combination of compounds is responsible for their antioxidant capabilities that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.
In summary, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, particularly rich in zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper and iron. They contain a wide array of beneficial plant compounds known as phytosterols and antioxidants, which can give your health an added boost and protect you against disease. The seeds, extract and oil have also long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
Thanks to all these valuable nutrients, these seeds may help keep your heart healthy, benefit your liver and immune system, help fight diabetes and offer unique benefits for men's prostate health and women's relief of menopause symptoms as well.
Pumpkin Seed Buying Tips & Storage
When selecting pumpkin seeds make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are not shriveled. If it is possible, smell the pumpkin seeds to ensure that they are not rancid or musty. Pumpkin seeds are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If your going to eat them within a few weeks, you can store them in a cool, dry place in an airtight container or plastic bag.