If you’re searching for a great snack that can nourish your body in between meals, you can try pumpkin seeds or pepitas. This popular treat has a sweet and nutty flavor that you’ll definitely like. But, there’s more. Pepitas contain valuable substances that can help improve your health. So, what are the benefits of pumpkin seeds?
1. A Good Source of Proteins
Our bodies need large amounts of protein to stay healthy and function efficiently. However, unlike carbohydrates and healthy fats, this macronutrient is not stored by your body. As such, consuming the right amount of high-quality proteins on a daily basis is essential for optimum health.
But, animal products are not the only sources of proteins. This macronutrient is also present in numerous plant-based products like seeds and nuts. In fact, 100 grams of pumpkin seeds have about 19 grams of protein.
2. Uplift Your Mood
Being an effective mood-booster is one of the most popular benefits of pumpkin seeds. Basically, this nutty-flavored food is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for creating serotonin – one of your so-called happy hormones.
Thus, if you’re feeling sad, avoid eating an ice cream, cake, or other sugary products. Remember, sugar may temporarily boost your mood. But, after a certain period, you’ll end up feeling low and craving for more sweets. Instead, try opting for a nutritious option like a handful of pepitas.
3. Help You Sleep Better
As an excellent source of tryptophan, pumpkin seeds can also promote a good night’s sleep. Keep in mind that our bodies can convert serotonin into the sleep hormone melatonin. But, that’s not all.
Pepitas have other nutrients that can help you sleep better, which are zinc and magnesium. According to a study, our bodies need optimum levels of magnesium for better sleep. In fact, experts have labeled magnesium as a powerful relaxation mineral due to its ability to fight stress and improve sleep. As for zinc, this nutrient plays a crucial role in converting serotonin into melatonin.
4. Boost Your Immunity
Aside from those above-mentioned health benefits of pumpkin seeds, this popular treat can also strengthen your immunity. This occurs because of the food’s zinc contents that fight invading viruses and bacteria. Moreover, studies have also linked zinc deficiency to depression, chronic fatigue, and a weak immune system. Because of these effects, health experts recommend a daily intake of zinc – about 8 mg (females) and 11 mg (males) in adults.
Fortunately, you don’t have to search and buy a lot of products to meet this requirement. Pumpkins seeds (100 g) can already provide about 7.64 mg of zinc. Other products rich in zinc are nuts, spinach, and mushrooms.
5. Prevent Inflammation
Today, a lot of people are aware of the harmful effects of the free radicals. Basically, inflammation is the body’s natural response to harmful stimuli like irritants, disease-causing microorganisms, and damaged cells.
However, chronic inflammation is now a common problem because of the free radicals. As you know, these unstable molecules injure our cells, resulting in swelling. But, damaged cells can also produce free radicals. Thus, a vicious cycle begins that eventually leads to serious health problems like arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. Nonetheless, consuming anti-inflammatory foods can help end this cycle and prevent certain ailments.
The good news is that pepitas have vitamin E and various kinds of carotenoids that are able to counteract the free radicals and reduce inflammation.
6. Promote a Healthy Heart
The last in this list of health benefits of pumpkin seeds is promoting a healthy heart. In fact, one study revealed the cholesterol levels of postmenopausal women have improved after taking pumpkin seed oil. This effect was mostly due to the omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) contents of the food. Aside from that, being rich in magnesium, pepitas can also help control your blood pressure. Lastly, the antioxidants in the seeds can also help prevent heart diseases by reducing inflammation.
- Improved Cholesterol Levels (NCBI)
- Tryptophan, Mood, and Anxiety (NCBI)
- Inflammation and Free Radicals (IJI)
- Magnesium and Sleep (NCBI)
- Zinc and Immune System (Science Daily)