By now you know how extremely nutritious pumpkins are, but did you know that even the seeds of the pumpkin fruit provide healthy benefits? You can still pick up pumpkins at the Sugarcreek township farm market, Greene County farm markets, or the 2nd Street market. Carve it or cook it, but save those seeds!
Pumpkin seeds are brimming with fiber, vitamins, minerals and numerous health promoting antioxidants:
Vitamin E – pumpkin seeds are very good source of the anti-oxidant vitamin E, containing about 237% of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which protects tissue cells from free radical-mediated injury – meaning it maintains the integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful free radicals
Protein – 3 ounces of seeds provide over half the RDA of protein, and are an excellent source of the amino acids tryptophan and glutamate, which are converted in the body to serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial and calming neurochemical, and glutamate is required in the synthesis of γ-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA, is a neurochemical in the brain which helps reduce anxiety and nervous irritability.
B vitamins – pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins assist with cellular metabolism in the body, and niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood; along with glutamate, niacin enhances GABA activity inside the brain to help reduce anxiety and neurosis. L-tryptophan is a compound in pumpkin seeds found to be effective against depression.
Manganese – pumpkin seeds provide about 198% of the daily recommended intake of manganese, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents as well as rid the body of harmful free radicals.
Pumpkin seeds contain very good levels of other essential minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. They are very high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) such as oleic acid; this substance helps lower the LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases the HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood.
Research suggests that pumpkin seeds have DHEA (Di-hydro-epi-androstenedione) blocking actions. This may be helpful in preventing prostate and ovarian cancers.
Pumpkin seeds contain compounds which help prevent calcium oxalate type kidney stone formation; currently being investigated are phytochemical compounds in pumpkin seed oil which may play a part in preventing diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease related to diabetes).
Whole un-hulled seeds store well for a few months in a cool dry place. However, hulled pumpkin seeds will quickly deteriorate in warm, humid conditions and are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Whole and hulled pumpkin seeds can be used in a variety of recipes, or simply enjoyed as snacks. Whole seeds are delicious either roasted or soaked and then dehydrated until crisp; raw kernels can be eaten as is, or soaked overnight and then dehydrated. The seeds can also be salted, sweetened, or flavored with lime, chili powder, garlic powder or other seasonings. As with other nuts and seeds, they are a tasty and nutritious addition to baked goods, casseroles, and sauces, such as mole sauce. You can add them to any sort of vegetable or rice dish. They can even be sprinkled over salads or on top of ice cream sundaes or other desserts.
NOTE: this is the last regular weekend for most of the farm markets; after this, vendors show up once weekend a month. the Sugarcreek Township farm market will take place on the third Friday of every month during the winter, and the Greene County farm markets also meet once a month throughout the winter.
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