Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin soup... Pumpkin is a common winter squash that has many delicious uses, but you might be overlooking one of the most beneficial parts that a pumpkin has to offer – pumpkin seeds!
These small seeds are packed with valuable nutrients, including vitamin K, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. They also include lots of antioxidants (such as carotenoids and vitamin E) and polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and folate. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and help cells fight against free radicals. Pumpkin seeds are also linked to improved prostate and bladder health, heart health, and healthy blood sugar levels. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, which promotes good digestion and a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. These delicious seeds really do pack a punch!
What is the best way to eat pumpkin seeds? The delicious seeds can be easily added to your diet in several ways. One of the most common (and nutritious!) ways is to simply eat the seeds raw. Raw seeds are a rich source of fiber and protein, with each ounce of seeds providing almost 9 grams of high quality, plant-based protein. Eating them raw requires no preparation, making them totally hassle-free.
Another common way to eat the seeds is to sprout them first. To make sprouted pumpkin seeds, remove the shells from the seeds and rinse them well. Place the seeds into a glass jar and cover with water, then soak the seeds for 1-2 hours. Drain the water and place the seeds back in the jar, then leave the pumpkin seeds in a cool location for 8-12 hours. After that time, rinse the seeds and spread them on a clean surface to dry. Once they have dried completely, they can be resealed in the jar for up to 8 hours or eaten immediately. These sprouted seeds are best eaten fresh!
Because of their high fat content, pumpkin seeds should not be heated over boiling temperature (212° F.) - otherwise, the high heat can oxidize the natural fat, turning it rancid. So, avoid roasted pumpkin seeds (or other roasted seeds) and save your gallbladder from the stress of trying to digest highly heated oils.
The best part about pumpkin seeds is that they can be flavored in many ways. Try a sweet combination of cinnamon and stevia (or monk fruit sweetener) on the seeds to add to your smoothie as a topping. You can also go spicy with some turmeric and cayenne on your seeds, then add them to your next stir fry. These seeds truly are versatile!
Also, did you know that raw pumpkin seeds have anti-parasitic properties? They contain a natural fat that is toxic to parasite eggs. In addition, the seeds contain cucurbitacin that has shown anti-parasitic activity, since it has the ability to paralyze worms so that they let go of their hold on the intestinal wall.
In addition to their significant cleansing properties, pumpkin seeds pack a punch of vitamins and nutrients. The next time you carve a pumpkin, make sure you hang on to those precious seeds!