Pumpkin Seeds and Their Health Benefits

Posted by Amabel Verde on

It's that time of year, pumpkins, apples, squashes. But before you go carving up those gorgeous gourds, don't throw away a very healthy component, the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a great source of antioxidants, providing awesome sources of zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin E.  It has been shown that it's best to eat them unhulled (shells in tact). While the shells themselves don't contain much except fiber, it's the endosperm, or the outer coating of the seeds, that has been shown to have the highest amount of zinc in it. This layer is removed in the hulling process, so it's best to eat the shell and all if possible. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to help with blood sugar regulation, and so are great snacks for diabetics.  Because of their high levels of antioxidants, pumpkin seeds are also helpful in the way of cancer prevention and have anti-microbial properties as well! (Source)

Pumpkin seeds have long been used in cooking, and are also called by their Spanish term, pepita.  To cook your pumpkin seeds, first remove the seeds from the pumpkin's inner cavity and wipe them off with a paper towel if needed to remove excess pulp that may have stuck to them. Spread them out evenly on a paper bag and let them dry out overnight (this is important and will allow you to have to cook them for less time).  Place your seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and light roast them in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes. This 20-minute roasting limit is important. In a recent study, 20 minutes emerged as a threshold hold time for changes in pumpkin seed fats. When roasted for longer than 20 minutes, a number of unwanted changes in fat structure of pumpkin seeds have been observed by food researchers.  I love to add spices to my seeds. Here's a great recipe to make:

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp curry or cumin powder
  • 1 tsp kosher/sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds

Spread thinly on a cookie sheet and roast at low temp 170 degrees for 20 minutes, or place in a dehydrator at 118 degrees until dried (about 8-10 hours, checking at about 5 hours, every dehydrator is different).  If you like them more crunchy, you can roast for longer, but know that you are damaging the healthy fats in the seed. This is why dehydrating at a lower temperature is ideal.

Another great way to use them is to add to salads, like this Buckwheat Tabbouleh.

Enjoy and happy eating....until next week!

Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com

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