Apart from the sweet taste, flavour, and vitamin in the pulp of the pumpkin, it is also the nutritional value of the pumpkin seeds that makes it popular in all societies. In conventional cooking styles, pumpkin seeds are used in salads, soups, and desserts. Pumpkin seed oil is treasured for its nutty taste, and it is used to boost the flavour of salad dressing. The seeds were used by native medicine practitioners to treat intestinal parasites and to improve renal function. The oil is used in indigenous medicine to treat people with prostate issues.
Nutritional Information and Properties
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vital nutrients such as zinc, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous. The best away to obtain nutrition from these seeds is to consume them raw. Essential fatty acids in the seeds are known to aid in the prevention of hardening of the arteries and to assist in regulating cholesterol levels.
Pumpkin seed oil is not used in cooking; it is added to salad dressing along with olive oil or may be used to enhance the flavour of a dessert in combination with honey. Toasting the seeds heightens their flavour to make them a tasty nutritious snack. Roasting them in the oven at 75°C for about 10 to 15 minutes helps to retain all the healthy goodness of the seeds.
Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses
Pumpkin seeds have multiple health benefits and are also used in the treatment of several ailments.
- Enlarged Prostate: Men with a family history of prostate problems are advised to include pumpkin seeds in their diet, or use pumpkin seed oil regularly in their salad dressing. This can be useful in reducing the possibility of cell duplication resulting in an enlarged prostate and trouble passing urine.
- Mental Health: Pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid used in the production of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. They are also used to assist those with learning disabilities to enhance their mental faculties. Snacks of toasted mixed nuts and seeds replenish the body with vital nutrients and minerals.
- Intestinal Parasites: Folk remedies in Germany, Thailand, and China prescribe pumpkin seeds for getting rid of intestinal parasites like tapeworms and threadworms. Those with irritable bowel syndrome also get relief with the regular consumption of pumpkin seeds.
- Osteoporosis: Eating zinc-rich pumpkin seeds provides protection against osteoporosis or low bone density in post menopausal women and older men. It helps to avoid fractures often caused by a simple fall, in the hip or the limbs due to brittle bones that lack density.
- Inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of pumpkin seeds are helpful to those with arthritis; and they reduce their dependence on harmful steroidal drugs. With reduced inflammation and pain, their mobility improves and with better mobility, they get more physical activity and remain fit.
- Cholesterol: Chemicals called phytosterols in pumpkin seeds work to reduce blood cholesterol levels and energize the body’s immune system. With a stronger immune system, the body is better equipped to fight diseases, including certain types of cancer.
- Kidney Stones: Apart from helping to maintain prostate health, pumpkin seeds have also been known to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Cooking destroys the beneficial fatty acids in pumpkin seed oil; so, it is best to add it to salad dressings or drizzle it on raw food. Pumpkin seeds can also be used in ground form to add flavour to cookies or burgers. Since pumpkin seed oil is often mixed with sunflower seed oil, one should read the label carefully to check the amount of sunflower seed oil.
Pumpkin seeds may cause diarrhea in some people, so it is best to try it in small quantities at first. For this reason, it may not be suitable for pregnant women.