Many people value pumpkins because they provide carbohydrates and iron among other nutrients. However many people don’t know the nutritious value of pumpkin seeds. Do you know that the seeds are rich in minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium and zinc which are useful for many physiological processes of the body?
For instance, according to Dr Rachna Pande, a specialist in internal medicine in Ruhengeri Hospital, zinc is useful for prostate problems in men.
“These seeds are good for the heart and liver because they provide plant-based omega three fatty acids which help to build up healthy fats in the body. Pumpkin seed oil also has phytosterols which helps women with menopausal symptoms,” she says.
Dr Pande adds that the seeds possess strong anti-inflammatory properties as well anti-oxidant properties which help to prevent wear and tear in the body. They also contain tryptophan which gets converted into serotin in hormones helping to induce sleep, while for diabetic patients, the seeds are vital due to their anti-diabetic properties.
Research studies suggest that pumpkin seeds contain Di-hydro-epi-androstenedione (DHEA) hormone blocking actions at the receptor levels. This way, they are able to cut the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers since exposure to high DHEA levels may lead to gonadal tumors.
In some cultures, pumpkin seeds are used as a natural remedy in the prevention of tapeworm infections and many other parasites.
Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist, says pumpkin seeds contain plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants which can boost one’s health.
He says that one-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. The seeds have physiological functions, including the creation of adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of the body, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of blood vessels and proper bowel function.
Bikorimana advises that in order to preserve the healthy fats present in the seeds, pumpkin seeds should be eaten raw.
How to prepare them
There are various ways of preparing pumpkin seeds. One can choose to roast, fry the seeds, or make powder out of them.
If you are to roast them, first discard the pulp and then boil them first in water for a few minutes. Dry them and then put them on a frying pan or oven for about 20 minutes. The boiling helps the salt to penetrate the seeds.
If you are to fry them, spread the seeds on a baking sheet, bake until they are dried then toss them in oil and add salt. Stir occasionally over medium heat until the seeds are lightly toasted.
Pumpkin seeds can be grown in your home garden or bought from the market.