Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pumpkin: Seeds, Oil and Fruit

Photo of Nutrition and Health Benefits of Pumpkin: Seeds, Oil and Fruit

Pumpkin is a fantastic and a delicious fruit made up of different parts such as the green leaves, the yellow pulp and the flat seeds, each of these parts are edible and with great flavour. Pumpkin seeds which are also called pepitas in Spanish are gotten from sweet pumpkin fruits; they are mostly light green when peeled from the shells and have white colour while inside the shells, these seeds can be boiled or roasted like peanuts for different recipes. Pumpkin seeds just like the pumpkin flesh has a lot of nutritional health benefits to man. These seeds add great flavour when they are added to make other dishes such as salads, oatmeal, smoothies, puddings, cookies and soups. However, pumpkin seeds can be blended into a smooth consistency to prepare a nice soup alternative to egusi soup (melon soup) since the ground seed (powder)looksmore like ground egusi (melon seeds).

Raw pumpkin seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds

 

Pumpkin seeds are sweet, buttery in texture and have a nutty flavour; however, the seeds are good snacks recipe as they can be chewed at any time of the day. Raw pumpkin seeds have a lot minerals packed in them (phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper and iron) and they also contain proteins, vitamins, healthy fats and high in calories, and even when the seeds are roasted they still retain their nutrients in them as long as they are roasted on a lower temperature. Since pumpkin seeds are gotten from plant, consuming them is one of the great ways of eating plant protein and fibre. Calories in pumpkin seeds may differ as these may be measured based on the quantity of pumpkin seeds. For instance, 100g of pumpkin seeds (raw pumpkin seeds) contain about 559kcal, which mean that the calories can increase or decrease based on the decrease or increase in pumpkin seeds consumption and also when other seasonings like oil, salt and butter are added to roast these seeds, the calories in them would also increase.

Health benefits of pumpkin seeds:

  1. Source of protein- 100g of pumpkin seeds contain 30g of protein, pumpkin seeds are good source of tryptophan- a type amino acids that the body converts into serotonin which is later converted to melatonin and this is secreted during sleep time. Consuming pumpkin seeds before bed time has a good way of providing the body with the needed tryptophan for the melatonin and serotonin secretion to help promote sound sleep.
  2. Omega 3-fatty acids- just like cod liver oil, pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats, mono -unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids which are needed by the body to prevent inflammation and to keep the blood sugar in good condition and also to protect the heart from infection.
  3. Contains anti- inflammatory and anti-microbial properties- pumpkin seeds oil contains anti-inflammatory properties; hence it is helpful for treating arthritis pain. The pumpkin seeds are great plant based food which are effective as coconut and garlic, they are rich in anti-microbial benefits which is effective in improving yeast infection and improves skin conditions. According to Wikipedia, pumpkin seeds oil was used as Chinese medicine for expulsion of tapeworm and for the treatment of parasitic disease- schistosomaisis.
  4. Good source of Iron- Pumpkin seeds are good source of iron just like beans and other grains, hence the seeds can be effective in treating anaemia deficiency and since excess of iron in the body can lead to bacteria growth, it is wise to consume pumpkin seeds in small amount.
  5. Good source of Zinc- high zinc content of pumpkin seeds is important in the body for blood formation and it is also beneficial in reducing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), hence, pumpkin seeds oil helps to reduce painful urination in men caused by enlarged prostate.
  6. High in fibre- pumpkin seeds are high in fibre, this fibre aids in digestion and prevents constipation, it is also wise to consume them in moderate amount as they may be high in calories.
  7. Healthy bone formation– pumpkin seeds contain magnesium in high amount and magnesium is an important electrolyte in the body that helps to maintain normal metabolism, hence the magnesium content in pumpkin seed is associated with proper bowel function and also helps to keep the heart in good condition.
  8. Pumpkin seed are known to contain phytosterols compounds which are effective in reducing bad levels of LDL cholesterol.
  9. Additives to other foods– Apart from being eaten as snacks, both raw pumpkin seeds and roasted pumpkin seeds are very easy to prepare with other foods, you can add ground pumpkin seeds to soups (pumpkin soup), stews, and cookies and you can sprinkle the chunky roasted seeds on green salads, oatmeal, sandwiches and in other vegetables recipes.

Pumpkin seeds recipe: How to roast pumpkin seeds

  1. Cut open pumpkin into halves; remove the seed from the pumpkin into a colander.
cutting of pumpkin fruit into two parts for removal of pumpkin seeds
cutting of pumpkin fruit into two parts for removal of pumpkin seeds

 

2. Rinse the pumpkin seeds under running water until all the excess stringy pulp is removed from the seeds.

3. Toast with salt and chilli powder and spread the seeds on a flat surface to dry the water in it.

Rinsed pumpkin seeds
Rinsed pumpkin seeds

 

4. Coat the pumpkin seeds with olive oil, salt and place the seeds in a baking sheet. You can add cinnamon powder to the pumpkin and more salt to your taste.

Drying of pumpkin seeds
Drying of pumpkin seeds

 

5. Bake the pumpkin seeds for 20 minutes; turn them from time to time until they are evenly golden.

Roasting of pumpkin seeds
Roasting of pumpkin seeds

 

6. When they are light browned, cool the seeds and enjoy them by removing the hull or you can seedstogether with the hulls if you prefer.

Roasted pumpkin seeds for eating as snacks
Roasted pumpkin seeds for eating as snacks

 

Pumpkin seeds are best stored in a cool dry place, this may enable them to stay fresh for up to 1month, but they can also be stored in the fridge for a longer range of time, if placed in an air tight container.

Ingredients for roasted pumpkin seeds

  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon chilli powder

Other pumpkin seeds seasonings include:

Butter, sugar, cinnamon, honey and paprika

Pumpkin seed oil and health benefits

Pumpkin seeds oil
Pumpkin seeds oil

 

Pumpkin seeds oil is a thick oil pressed out from roasted pumpkin seeds. This oil contains fatty acids (oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid); it is usually used to prepare pumpkin soups, salads and for making ice creams. The appearance of pumpkin seeds oil could be green or red, depending on the oil layer thickness, because of its robust flavour, the oil is usually mixed with other oils for cooking.

Pumpkin seeds oil can be mixed with other hair products for an effective hair growth- since pumpkin seeds are loaded with great nutrients like vitamin, protein, fatty acids. The unsaturated fatty acid and antioxidant properties in pumpkin seeds oil can help to seal in moisture in the hair follicle as well as in the skin, the antioxidant properties in pumpkin seeds oil may help prevent scalp inflammation and protects the cells from harmful free radicals. The oil keeps hair shining and strong, it can also be used as hair conditioner to promote growth and prevent dandruff.

Pumpkin seed oil for hair growth

  • Mixed pumpkin seed oil+ Shea butter and one whisked egg and apply to already washed hair and cover with a plastic cap for 20 minutes and then rinse the hair with warm water and style. For a shining hair result and for prevention of dandruff, massage scalp with pumpkin seeds oil and also rub small amount of the oil on hair, comb and style as you want.

Health benefits of pumpkin fruit

The many health benefits of pumpkin are:

  1. Just like I have mentioned before that every part of pumpkin is edible and nutritious, the pulp or puree is loaded with 109 kilo joule of the needed energy in the body. This is equivalent to 26kcal. When compared to the energy found in yam which is 494kj (118kcal), it is far less but highly rich for consumption.
  2. Pumpkin contains useful vitamin A, B, C, E and k. The Vitamin A content in pumpkin which totals about 7384IU (246% of vitamin A) – helps in the maintenance of healthy mucous membranes, providing good vision and healthy skin to many who eat pumpkin. Eating of pumpkin during severe infection like measles helps to prevent complications that could arise such as night blindness (for the same reason why palm oil and palm wine are used as home treatment for measles in children). Pumpkin contains carotenoid which is another form of Vitamin A; it acts as a powerful antioxidant.
  3. Riboflavin, Thiamine, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic acid and pyridoxine are types of Vitamin B containing in pumpkin, these aid in metabolic activities of the body, maintain healthy skin, supports digestive system and also aid cell division, and this vitamin helps to protect the heart and nervous system from the build-up of toxic substances. It helps in converting carbohydrates and fats into energy and is needed for the formation of red blood cells.
  4. While vitamin C in pumpkin plays an important role as antioxidant and also it aids in quick healing of wound and in the boosting of immune system.
  5. The total amount of vitamin E in raw pumpkin is 1.06mg (7%).This is an antioxidant that protects the cells and tissues from poisonous substances that destroys cells in the body and free radicals, pumpkin can be added to skin care products to slow down aging process.
  6. Pumpkin is also seen as one of the healthiest fruit which contains natural sugar; it has a very low percentage of fat of about (0.5%) which may help one to reduce excess dietary fat consumption to a healthy level. It has non-saturated fat in it.
  7. Although vitamin K in pumpkin is low just about 1.1mcg (1% per 100g), It can help in blood clotting.
  8. The seeds are loaded with dietary fibre and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. These properties are useful for reducing heart attacks.
  9. The dietary fibre found in pumpkin seeds help to reduce constipation and bad cholesterol by binding it to the intestine and it also slows down colon cancer by preventing toxic compounds in the food from sticking to the colon mucosa.
  10. It contains a lot useful minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, iron, Zinc, phosphorus and Selenium.

The total Iron content in pumpkin per 100g is about 0.80mg (10% iron content), this is an important nutrient that helps in blood formation in the body, it is therefore recommended for prevention and treatment of iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women and women with menorrhagia (heavy menstruation).The rich iron content of pumpkin can be a good source of iron for breast feeding mothers.

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