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Pumpkin seeds

Why Eat It
Availability
Shopping
Storage
Preparation
Nutrition Chart


Why Eat It

The delicious roasted seeds of the pumpkin are packed with protein, fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous, as well as the amino acids arginine and glutamic acid. They also contain some calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, folate, and niacin. Pumpkin seeds also contain linolenic acid, which may help to prevent hardening of the arteries.

Pumpkin seeds, and the oil they contain, have long been used as folk medicine. They have recently been the subject of a number of studies to identify their health-promoting potential. Preliminary studies have shown that pumpkin seeds may reduce hormonal damage to prostate cells, thus possibly reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer. Pumpkin seeds have been used to treat urinary tract infections, and in certain parts of Europe, pumpkin seeds have been used to treat learning disorders. In China pumpkin seeds are regarded as a remedy for depression (and pumpkin seed oil has long been a treatment for prostatitis).

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a rich, almost peanuty flavor and can be eaten as snacks or can be added to salads, soups, and casseroles. Pumpkin seeds can also be ground and used to make sauces.

Availability

Peak availability is late summer throughout the fall and winter.

Shopping

Pumpkin seeds are sold in the shell, shelled, roasted, and raw. They can be found in health food stores and some supermarkets. The shelled pumpkin seeds are often labeled pepitas, (which means "little seeds" in Spanish).

Storage

The oil in pumpkin seeds can easily go rancid, so keep pumpkin seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.

Preparation

You can roast your own pumpkin seeds from a fresh pumpkin. Pull the pumpkin seeds from inside the pumpkin and rinse them in a colander. Pull any pulp or strings from the seeds and rinse again. Blot the seeds dry and place in a bowl. Add a few drops of olive oil (maybe just a drop of sesame oil, too, for added flavor) and spread them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the seeds lightly with salt. Roast the seeds at 375°F for about 45 minutes, or until they are golden. Cool the seeds completely and store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Chart

Pumpkin Seeds/1 ounce hulled

153
Total fat (g)
13
Saturated fat (g)
2.5
Monounsaturated fat (g)
4.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g)
6
Dietary fiber (g)
1.1
7
Carbohydrate (g)
5
Cholesterol (mg)
0
Sodium (mg)
5
Copper (mg)
0.4
Iron (mg)
4.3
Magnesium (mg)
152
Manganese (mg)
0.9
Phosphorus (mg)
333


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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