From crisps to chocolate, the snack cupboard is tempting us with all sorts of not-so-healthy treats to keep us going through these work from home days (although some chocolate is healthier than others). Seeds, nuts, and fruit provide far more nutritious options, and with it being the week of Halloween, one seed, in particular, is standing out from the snack pack.
Marinated and roasted, the pumpkin seed, also known as a pepita to some (pepitas are harvested specifically from hull-less pumpkins), becomes a tasty snack, and one with a host of health benefits at that. Below we break down all those benefits for you, along with a ridiculously easy recipe to help you make your own roasted pumpkin seeds at home.
The Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds
Protein is obviously a concern for us here at Form, and pumpkin seeds have plenty. A single 28g serving of pumpkin seeds contains 7g of protein, which is more than an extra-large egg (yet more proof that you don’t need to rely on meat and dairy for your gym gains).
You can eat pumpkin seeds with or without their shell (most you’ll find in the supermarket come de-shelled), but leaving them on will only increase the seeds already high fibre content. Eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. In fact, a 2011 study found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7 percent and increased “good” cholesterol levels by 16 percent, all of which affirm fibre’s health benefits.
Magnesium & Antioxidants
Now, this could also be credited to pumpkin seeds’ high levels of magnesium and antioxidants too. The former is severely lacking in modern Western diets. In the US, around 79 percent of adults have a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount. But magnesium is important for regulating your blood sugar levels, controlling blood pressure, and reducing your risk of heart disease. The moral of the story? Get more magnesium in your diet, and eat more pumpkin seeds.
The latter, antioxidants, are a common theme among superfoods. Antioxidants reduce inflammation you see and protect your cells from harmful free radicals, meaning they help combat a ton of chronic disease. If you’re eating foods rich in antioxidants, like pumpkin seeds, then you’re giving yourself a fighting chance of leading a longer, healthier life.
Finally, as a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep, pumpkin seeds could also potentially be opening up the door to even more benefits on our general wellbeing.
You would need to eat around seven portions to get enough tryptophan from pumpkin seeds to make a difference (according to this 2014 study), but couple it with the high magnesium (which you can also find in our ZZZZs supplements) and zinc content (which converts tryptophan into melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep), and you have a potential poor-sleep buster on your hands.
How To Roast Your Own Pumpkin Seeds
While you can boil your pumpkin seeds to soften them up ready for snacking, our favourite way of readying them at home is roasting them. This way you can add your own spices (pumpkin seeds are great at taking on different flavours). Here’s a quick 15 minute recipe then for you to follow:
- Using a wide, relatively flat spoon, scrape out the seeds from your pumpkin, pulling away any stringy bits as you go along.
- Using a strainer, wash your seeds. You could use a colander, but you might have some seeds escape through the gaps
- Dry off your seeds before spreading them across a baking tray.
- Sprinkle with some sea salt and some extra spices if you fancy adding a kick. Paprika, chilli flakes and cumin work well.
- Dash with some vegetable oil making sure all the seeds are covered, before popping into a 180°C oven for 10 minutes.