Its that time of year, time to indulge in the autumn bounty of Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Beer, Pumpkin Coffee and of course Roasted Pumpkin Seeds!
Not only are roasted pumpkin seeds easy to make they are really good for you too! This year I roasted and lightly salted them but you can sprinkle any type of seasoning or dried herbs onto them too. Alex and I like them with a hint of cayenne pepper! They are great sprinkled on a salad, as a crunch snack, or even as a topping on a bowl of chili.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
- Crunchy, delicious pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 559 calories per 100 g. In addition; they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health promoting antioxidants.
- Their high caloric content mainly comes from protein and fats. On the positive side, the nuts are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid (18:1) that helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is liberal in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
- The seeds contain good-quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g or 54% of recommended daily allowance. In addition, the seeds are an excellent source of amino acid tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial neuro-chemical often labeled as nature's sleeping pill. Further, tryptophan is a precursor of B-complex vitamin, niacin (60 mg of tryptophan = 1mg niacin).
- Glutamate is required in the synthesis of γ-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA, an anti-stress neurochemical in the brain, helps reducing anxiety, nervous irritability, and other neurotic conditions.
- Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of anti-oxidant vitamin E; contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol-gamma per 100 g (about 237% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. It prevents tissue cells from the free radical mediated oxidant injury. Thus, it helps maintain the integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
- Pumpkin kernels are an also excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for various enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism in the human body. In addition, niacin helps to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. Along with glutamate, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn reduces anxiety and neurosis.
- Furthermore, its seeds contain very good levels of essential minerals like copper, manganese,potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Just as in pine nuts, pumpkin seeds too are very rich in manganese (provide 4543 mg per 100 g, about 198% of daily-recommended intake).Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. It is therefore, consumption of pumpkin kernels helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.