As it is Halloween tomorrow, a lot of us may be scooping out our pumpkins today and carving Jack O Lanterns. I am therefore re-posting a piece from my soon to be taken down Superfoods Project blog! I hope that this is useful information! I was not successful growing pumpkins this year as the squirrels seem to love to dig up my seeds. My squash were more successful I think because I sprouted the seeds indoors first, and then placed them in the ground once they had a reasonably sized young plant growing. I love to plant a few pumpkin seeds (a giant variety is always better) here and there at the edge of my front gardens, so the plants have room to grow under my flowers, but as the flowers fade in the fall a pumpkin emerges for fall decoration. Better luck next year!
Pepitas don’t sound like a locally grown food to me. The name provides a bit of international nuance to something very basic. Pepitas are pumpkin seeds. They contain Phytosterols which apparently lower cholesteral, and may support prostate health. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
The omega 6 fatty acids in pepitas, we already get a lot of anyway in baked and prepared foods, and while there are omega 3s in pumpkin seeds and oil, there may be better sources.
The jury is still out on whether and how pumpkin seeds may be helpful to prostate health, there have been several studies on the subject. Pumpkin seed oil was linked to improvement in benign prostate inflammation. The theory is that the phytosterols may block the effect of testosterone elements on the prostate. Another theory is that the zinc in pumpkin seeds may help prostate health. While it’s not clear what the effects and mechanisms are at this time, I may be encouraging my spouse to consume pumpkin seeds regularly.
Another benefit of pepitas and pumpkin seed oil are that they contain tryptophan which is an amino acid which gets converted by our bodies into serotonin, and then melatonin. The result is that they help us sleep and may reduce anxiety.
The oil of pumpkin seeds is high in fatty acids, and has been shown to reduce inflammation, supporting joint health, reducing atherosclerosis and non-alcohol related fatty liver disease.
How to consume pumpkin seeds? Roasted spiced pumpkin seeds are an easy snack, pumpkin seeds are also great incorporated into homemade cereal bars and granola. Recently, we have been enjoying pumpkin seeds in our favorite kale salad. Pumpkin seeds can also be purchased in ground form, and pumpkin seed oil is available in supermarkets.