Pumpkins are native to the Americas, but it soon became popular throughout the world as a snack food. Inside pumpkins are pumpkin seeds, which are well known for their nutritional benefits. No wonder they are among the best raw superfoods out there. In fact, since 6000 B.C., the Aztec culture of central Mexico cultivated pumpkins, prizing them for their delicious seeds. In the present time, pumpkin seeds are convenient and tasty snack food that comes with lots of benefits.
One of the best features that pumpkin seeds have is their versatility. It’s because they are great as a stand-alone snack, and can also be used as a salad topping or an ingredient in baking and in making burgers. Pumpkin seeds are fantastic snack food, whether they are roasted, unroasted, shelled, and unshelled.
If you want to know more about pumpkin seeds and their benefits as raw superfoods, you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give you the different health benefits that you can get from eating pumpkin seeds.
History of Pumpkin Seeds
Before we go to the benefits that you can get from pumpkin seeds, let us know first a bit about their history. As mentioned earlier, pumpkins, and as well as their seeds, are native to the Americas, as there are indigenous species found across North America, South America, and Central America. Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas” since it comes from Mexico, where the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash.”
Pumpkin seeds, among many Native American tribes, were a celebrated food. They treasured them because of their dietary and medicinal properties. The popularity of pumpkin seeds can be traced as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300 to 1500 AD in South America. The fame of pumpkin seeds spread from the Americas to the rest of the globe through trade and exploration over a lot of countries. In pars of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, pumpkin seeds became a standard part of their daily cuisine. The culinary and medical traditions in India and other parts of Asia also put pumpkin seeds into a place of importance.
In the present time, more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are being produced in China compared to any other country. Other major producers of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are the United States, Ukraine, Mexico, Russia, and India. In the United States, the largest producer of pumpkins is Illinois, followed by California and Ohio. But now, pumpkins are grown commercially in all U.S. states. In fact, more than 100,000 acres of farmlands in the U.S. are planted with pumpkins.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are filled with lots of health benefits and nutrients packed into their small size. They can help boost immunity and metabolism, reduce weight, improve sleep, and uplift mood, to name a few. If you want to know more, here are some of the health benefits that you can get from eating pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which can promote sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping, then eating some pumpkin seeds might help you. They are a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, and there’s about 600 mg of it per serving of pumpkin seeds. This amino acid supports healthy sleep patterns. Therefore, it is very helpful for those who have mild insomnia, as it can help them fall asleep and remain sleeping for longer periods. You can try putting some pumpkin seeds on a salad for dinner, or have it as a bedtime snack to be able to sleep better.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium and as well as other minerals.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, and manganese. Magnesium can help improve sleep and mood, while manganese aids in collagen promotion, promoting skin and bone health. Iron and copper are helpful in energy production, and iron can also help in transporting oxygen to cells. And lastly, zinc can support immunity, vision, and as well as skin health. In fact, just a serving of pumpkin seeds can give you 14% to 42% of the daily target of these important nutrients.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants.
Aside from the minerals that pumpkin seeds contain, they are also rich in antioxidants that can protect body cells. These antioxidants include vitamin E and carotenoids. Aside from reducing inflammation, these antioxidants can also help in fighting off premature aging and chronic diseases.
Pumpkin seeds are filled with beneficial fats.
Pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. The benefits of this include protecting people against heart disease, fighting inflammation, and reducing the risk of artery hardening.
Pumpkin seeds can help control blood sugar.
Pumpkin seeds are low in carbs, and they are also a good source of plant protein. Based on research, eating pumpkin seeds may help protect against type 2 diabetes or reduce its complications. It can help improve insulin regulation and protect organs against the consequences of diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds can help boost the immune system.
Aside from zinc and iron, which are both important for immune function, pumpkin seeds also contain anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Pumpkin seeds are also not a common trigger of allergies and intolerances.
Pumpkin seeds may improve sperm quality.
According to researchers, both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil can help protect prostate health. They are beneficial for relieving the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The zinc that pumpkin seeds contain may also support male fertility. It’s because low zinc levels have been connected to reduced sperm quality.
Pumpkin seeds may help prevent osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are popular due to their effects on osteoporosis. They contain high levels of calcium, zinc, copper, and other minerals that are connected to increased bone density. Based on studies, regular intake of pumpkin seeds can help reduce bone weakness and the symptoms of osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds can help reduce blood pressure.
Since pumpkin seeds contain high levels of copper, it can help in increasing the red blood cell count in the body and improve the oxygenated passage of blood through the vessels. When this activity is combined with low-sodium content, it can help improve heart health by reducing blood pressure.
Pumpkin seeds are indeed amazing raw superfoods. If you are looking into making the foods you prepare a bit healthier, then adding some pumpkin seeds to them can be great. They are also wonderful to eat as snacks if you are looking for something nutritious and delicious at the same time. We hope the information we shared was able to help you know more about pumpkin seeds as raw superfoods.