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Benefits of Pumpkins
61. Mineral Support
Plants that have a close relationship to the soil are often special sources of mineral nutrients, and pumpkin (and their seeds) are no exception. Our food rating process found pumpkin seeds to be a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper and a good source of the minerals zinc and iron.
62. special source of the mineral zinc
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a special source of the mineral zinc, and the World Health Organization recommends their consumption as a good way of obtaining this nutrient. To get full zinc benefits from your pumpkin seeds, you may want to consume them in unshelled form. Although recent studies have shown there to be little zinc in the shell itself (the shell is also called the seed coat or husk), there is a very thin layer directly beneath the shell called the endosperm envelope, and it is often pressed up very tightly against the seed coat. Zinc is especially concentrated in this endosperm envelope. Because it can be tricky to separate the endosperm envelope from the shell, eating the entire pumpkin seed
63. Antimicrobial Benefits
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti microbial benefits, including their anti fungal and anti viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial
64. Cancer Related Benefits
Because oxidative stress is known to play a role in the development of some cancers, and pumpkin seeds are unique in their composition of antioxidant nutrients, it s not surprising to find some preliminary evidence of decreased cancer risk in association with pumpkin seed intake. However, the antioxidant content of pumpkin seeds has not been the focus of preliminary research in this cancer area. Instead, the research has focused on lignans. Only breast cancer and prostate cancer seem to have received much attention in the research world in connection with pumpkin seed intake, and much of that attention has been limited to the lignan content of pumpkin seeds. To some extent, this same focus on lignans has occurred in research on prostate cancer as well. For these reasons, we cannot describe the cancer related benefits of pumpkin seeds as being well documented in the research, even though pumpkin seeds may eventually be shown to have important health benefits in this area.
65. Possible Benefits for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Pumpkin seed extracts and oils have long been used in treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a health problem involving non cancer enlargement of the prostate gland, and it commonly affects middle aged and older men in the U.S. Studies have linked different nutrients in pumpkin seeds to their beneficial effects on BPH, including their phytosterols, lignans, and zinc. Among these groups, research on phytosterols is the strongest, and it centers on three phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds: beta sitosterol, sitostanol, and avenasterol. The phytosterols campesterol, stigmasterol, and campestanol have also been found in pumpkin seeds in some studies. Unfortunately, studies on BPH have typically involved extracts or oils rather than pumpkin seeds themselves. For this reason, it s just not possible to tell whether everyday intake of pumpkin seeds in food form has a beneficial impact on BPH. Equally impossible to determine is whether intake of pumpkin seeds in food form can lower a man s risk of BPH. We look forward to future studies that will hopefully provide us with answers to those questions.
66. How to Select
Pumpkin seeds are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the pumpkin seeds are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure the seeds maximal freshness. Whether purchasing pumpkin seeds in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are not shriveled. If it is possible to smell the pumpkin seeds, do so in order to ensure that they are not rancid or musty.
Pumpkin seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. While they may stay edible for several months, they seem to lose their peak freshness after about one to two months. We recommend that you purchase certified organic raw pumpkin seeds and then light roast them yourself (see next section on how to do so). By purchasing organic, you will avoid unnecessary exposure to potential contaminants. By purchasing raw, you will be able to control the roasting time and temperature, and avoid unnecessary damage to helpful fats present in the seeds. At the same time, you will be able to bring out the full flavors of the pumpkin seeds through roasting.
68. Tips for Preparing Pumpkin Seeds
While most stores sell pumpkin seeds, it is fun and easy to make your own. To do so, first remove the seeds from the pumpkin s inner cavity and wipe them off with a paper towel if needed to remove excess pulp that may have stuck to them. Spread them out evenly on a paper bag and let them dry out overnight. You can, of course, purchase pumpkin seeds in the store. We would recommend purchasing organic raw pumpkin seeds and then light roast them yourself.
69. Individual Concerns
Pumpkin seeds are not a commonly allergenic food and are not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines. Pumpkin puree contains about 10 percent of your daily requirement for potassium as well. You need adequate amounts of potassium to support healthy digestion.
70. Nutritional Profile
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. Pumpkins seeds also contain health supportive phytosterols, including beta sitosterol, sitostanol, and avenasterol. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc and iron. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein.
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