Science has confirmed what Native American Indians knew a long time ago. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, offer various health benefits. Here are some of the nutritional and medicinal benefits:
Very good source of manganese: Consuming ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provide 74% of the recommended daily value of manganese. Therefore, pumpkin seeds may be beneficial in bone formation.
Very good source of tryptophan: Consuming ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provide 53% of the recommended daily value of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, which enhances mood. Serotonin is a precursor of melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythm (“internal clock”) and promotes sleep.
Good source of protein: According to the USDA, one ounce of pumpkin seeds has 8.5 grams of protein (a little higher than one cup of milk).
Good source of zinc: Consuming ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provide 17% of the recommended daily value of zinc. Thus, pumpkin seeds may be beneficial in reducing osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Good source of non-heme iron: Consuming ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provide 16% of the recommended daily value of iron. According to the USDA, one ounce of pumpkin seeds has more iron than 3 ounces of broiled lean sirloin. Iron may be beneficial in preventing anemia. Just remember that plant sources of iron are non-heme compared to animal sources which are heme iron.
Source of antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds contain carotenoids, which are antioxidants. Studies show that carotenoids potentially decrease the risk of or improve benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate).
Source of phytosterols: Phytosterols are compounds that can potentially decrease cholesterol and LDL levels, which can improve heart health. Phytosterols may also improve immunity and lower the risk of some cancers.
Have anti-inflammatory properties: Results from animal studies demonstrate that pumpkin seeds provide anti-inflammatory benefits similar to anti-inflammatory drugs. This may be beneficial for people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Why wait until the fall season to eat some pumpkin seeds when you can enjoy Nicobella’s pumpkin chai truffles all year long! The pumpkin seeds are ground into pumpkin butter and combined with 70% dark chocolate and chai tea for a delicious dessert or snack.
- Article written by Jennifer Glockner, (soon-to-be) Registered Dietitian who lives in Sherman Oaks, CA and worked with nicobella during her nutrition internship.