Pumpkin seeds or Pepitas are thought to have originated from Central America, but have since made their way into the diets of people all around the world. While they may still take a back seat to their popular sesame, and sunflower seed cousins, pumpkin seeds are one of the few foods that I eat without fail every single day, and recommend to many of my private practice nutrition clients.
I remember as a kid always eating pumpkin seeds throughout the Fall and Winter because my Mom would always save and roast the seeds from our pumpkins. What five year old happily snacks on pumpkin seeds? Well that was me, and it's no surprise that today even with all the popular powders, and superfoods floating around the internet, that I always come back to real whole foods that ever since I was a kid just make me feel good.
But what is so amazing about pumpkin seeds specifically. Well for a society of people that are chronically deficient in magnesium (thanks to us pretty much ruining our soil and food supply), and 12% of all Americans suffering from some kind of thyroid condition, pumpkin seeds are one of natures blessings that basically are the topping so many of us have come to need in our diets. So lets get into it.
health benefits of pumpkin seeds
High In Magnesium
Like I already mentioned, most Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet anymore due to the decrease in quality of the soil in which our food is grown, and how far our food is shipped/how long it takes before our food reaches our homes. Then after cooking we are left with so little magnesium in foods that used to be abundant that many people now require magnesium supplementation. Magnesium is known as the "calming" mineral as it is involved in reduces stress on the sympathetic nervous system, and thus having a stress reduction effect on the body. Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that more and more people are experiencing sleep related issues, and high anxiety, while our consumption of magnesium has gone down.
To help address this, for many people experiencing poor sleep, poor digestion, and anxiety I recommend eating a handful of magnesium rich raw (organic) pumpkin seeds every day, and adding a magnesium supplement or oil at night.
high in zinc
Zinc is one of those minerals that gets completely forgotten about, but is so critical for the health of our thyroid, skin, wound healing, make proteins, DNA, etc. Zinc is responsible for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, and is essential for a healthy well functioning thyroid. Zinc is also important for a healthy immune system, making pumpkin seeds an even greater addition during the cold/flu season. G
Good Nights Sleep
In addition to the calming magnesium present in pumpkin seeds, they also contain roughly 600 mg of tryptophan per serving. Tryptophan is an amino acid that also happens to be a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin. So if you are also someone who has difficulty sleeping, it would hurt to add pumpkin seeds into your diet, in addition to stress reduction techniques that can help encourage a good nights sleep.
So what do you think? Would you start adding pumpkin seeds into your diet? Let me know your favorite way to enjoy them!