Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds and your Health

One in Two Halloween-celebrating adults plan to carve a pumpkin for the holiday. With all that carving, you’re bound to be left with a surplus of pumpkin seeds. While many people simply scoop out and discard the seeds as they prepare to carve their jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, offer many health benefits.
Pumpkin seeds were first used by Native Americans, who found the seeds to be useful in eliminating intestinal parasites. The tribes also used pumpkin seeds to treat kidney problems. The seeds are still used to prevent kidney stones, but it is not known how this works.
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What we do know about Pumpkin seeds is that they are high in magnesium and according to a 2005 study in the Journal of American College nutrition, 68% of Americans have a magnesium deficiency.  Lacking Magnesium can lead to such conditions as heart desease, hypertention, and diabetes if left untreated.  the best news is about 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds has 87% of the daily requirement of magnesium for an adult, so move over almonds, there is another afternoon snack worth considering.
In addition to all this, there are prostrate cancer studies being done that show promise and pumpkin seeds are know to hold the chemicals which help to lower LDL cholesteraol.  Though it is best to eat pumpkin seeds raw to preserve the nutritional elements, there are many other delicious ways to enjoy them.
• Add pumpkin seeds to soups or salads for a nutty flavor.
• Mix pumpkin seeds in with sautéed vegetables.
• Combine pumpkin seed oil with honey and olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.
• Roast pumpkin seeds with an endless combination of spices.
I enjoy my pumpkin seeds with a little cinnamon, so I spread them on a cookkie sheet, spray them with a bit of canola spray and sprinkle them with Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend.  After roasting for 30 to 40 minutes at 300 degrees I enjoy them on my oatmeal.
Here is another recipe you can try that lets you go a bit stronger in flavor:

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Experiment with a variation of seasonings such as cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or Backyard Patch N'Orleans Secret to make a zesty and healthy snack. MAKES 2 CUPS 
• 1 cup whole raw pumpkin seeds
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1/8 teaspoon desired seasoning, such as cayenne pepper, cumin, or curry
1. Scoop the seeds from the pumpkin and place them on a plate.

2. Remove the strings and pulp, and blot with a paper towel. Do not rinse.

3. Combine the olive oil, salt, garlic salt, desired spice, and pumpkin seeds.

4. Mix thoroughly and spread in a shallow baking dish.

5. Bake for 1 hour at 275 degrees, tossing occasionally with a spatula, until the seeds are golden brown and fragrant.

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