Pumpkin Seeds: A Healthy Halloween Treat

Pumpkin Seeds
Photo by dmodzelewski via Flickr

The cool, crisp air outside is a sign that fall has arrived and summer has gone. The trees all know it, their leaves already turning from green to the vibrant red, yellow and brown that we all love to see every year. That means that Halloween is just around the corner. Pretty soon it will be time to buy a pumpkin or two from your local store or pumpkin patch.

Then you’ll be carving Jack O’Lanterns or maybe making a pie. Either way, don’t forget to keep those seeds. It would be a shame to throw away such a wonderful, nutritious food.

What are the nutritional benefits?
Pumpkin seeds, sometimes called pepitas, are a very healthy snack, bursting with nutritional benefits.

  • Protein and unsaturated fats: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Minerals: They are a good source of essential minerals, such as, iron, zinc, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and potassium.
  • Vitamins: The seeds contain folate and vitamins A, B, C, and D as well as being considered a good source of vitamin K.

Although pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, essential fatty acids and are rich in many important vitamins and minerals, they also contain 180 calories per ¼ cup (60 ml) serving. Like all nuts and seeds, please eat them in moderation. Eating too many of them can, after all, make you gain weight.

What are the health benefits?
Pumpkin seeds are considered one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Here is why:

  • Promotes prostate health: Research shows that eating pumpkin seeds might help prevent benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
  • Prevents osteoporosis: There is a strong correlation between diets low in zinc and the development of osteoporosis. Pumpkin seeds are a zinc-rich food that can help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Is an anti-inflammatory: Animal studies show that pumpkin seeds are effective in reducing arthritic inflammation.
  • Lowers cholesterol: Pumpkin seeds are rich in phytosterols, a compound found in plants, which helps decrease the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  • Helps against depression: Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, which has been shown to be effective in fighting depression.
  • Can help prevent cancer: A diet rich in phytosterols has also been linked to a reduced risk of certain types of cancers.

Where can I find pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are easy to find.

  • Find them at your local store: You can buy them at your local store usually in a pre-packaged bag or you can find them in the bulk section. Sometimes, they’re labeled as pepitas, so don’t be fooled!
  • Make them yourself: You can also make them yourself when you have a pumpkin lying around. Here is a recipe from allrecipes.com that is easy and fun to do!

Make sure to keep your pumpkin seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent them from oxidizing and losing some of their health benefits.

What dishes complement pumpkin seeds?
Roasted pumpkin seeds have a nutty, sweet flavor with a chewy texture that goes well in many dishes. Of course, they are also tasty on their own. Try them in some of these dishes:

  • Salads: Sprinkle some on top of your salads to add a hint of nutty flavor.
  • Cookies: Add them to your oatmeal-raisin cookies for a tasty, little nutritional boost.
  • Sautéed vegetables: Cook them with any of your favorite vegetables, like kale or swiss chard, to increase the nutritional benefit.
  • Granola: Add them to your granola recipe. They are always a tasty addition.
  • Rice: Some people mix them into their rice to add a little extra flavor.
  • Stir-Fry: Pumpkin seeds are a favorite in stir-fry dishes. Sprinkle some in next time.

So, this Halloween please don’t throw away your delicious, healthy pumpkin seeds. Instead, eat them on their own or place them in your favorite dish. Your body, and taste buds, will thank you for it!

Comments (6)

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  1. M says:

    We love our pumpkin seeds….never considered granola, until now! Thanks!

  2. Rosy says:

    Great post, Talli! Ok, call me a dork, but I have no clue that pepitas were the same as pumpkin seeds. I said, “oh, taste just like pumpkin seeds but didn’t connect the two. 🙁 Adding them to oatmeal-raisin cookies sounds so good!

  3. Jaimie says:

    Love pumpkin seeds…it’s our tradition every year with the kiddos…lots of garlic, sea salt & pepper ….love em’ warm from the oven 🙂

  4. cathy says:

    My 2 yr old loves to eat roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack. Looks like I need to save seeds and roast some myself this year when we do jack o’lanterns.

  5. Hi Talli,
    I love to eat pumpkin seeds as a snack and also have them in my muesli/granola in the mornings.

    Amazing how good they are for you.

    Thanks for this very informative post.

  6. v says:

    During a recent trip to the grocery store I was looking for pumpkin seeds but only saw what looked like pumpkin seeds without the shell. The package label said Pepitas; I thought to myself, hmm; they look like pumpkin seeds (without the shell)but the package doesn’t say pumpkin seeds. So I asked a store employee about them and she confirmed that Pepitas are acually pumpkin seeds. Now I know them as a different name and have always loved them just not with the salted shell. Thanks for the recipes too!

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