Pumpkin seeds

Benefits of pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seedsMost people are familiar with pumpkin and its health benefits, but not many people know that pumpkin seeds are also a source of minerals and vitamins. While pumpkin seeds are not commonly used in Western cuisines, they are a common ingredient in Mexico. This article will provide some background information on pumpkin seeds as well as address some of its health benefits. This article will also provide some tips on storing the seeds.

Description

Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas. Before sold for consumption, pumpkin seeds are usually roasted beforehand. They are dark green seeds which are flat. There are different types of pumpkin seeds. One type of pumpkin seeds most commonly sold in supermarkets is the one with a yellow-white husk. This husk is often referred to as the shell of the seeds. Not all seeds have a shell. Some pumpkins produce seeds which do not have shells. Pumpkin seeds usually have a chewy texture and have a sweet and nutty flavor. Pumpkin seeds are often known as being a treat during Halloween. Luckily this delicious treat is available throughout the year and serve as a nutritious snack at any time of the day. Supermarkets sell all kinds of pumpkin seeds. You can buy them either with their shell or unshelled. You can also buy them raw instead of roasted. This will allow you to roast them at home. We will explain how you can roast pumpkin seeds later on in this article. Some supermarkets also sell flavored pumpkin seeds. These are usually roasted and are mixed with a mix of spices. Pumpkin seeds belong to the biological family called Cucurbitaceae. Other food products which also belong to this family include cucumber, watermelon, squash and cantaloupe.

History

Pumpkins and their seeds find their origins in North and South America. Indigenous communities have been consuming pumpkin and their seeds for many years. As mentioned earlier, pumpkin seeds are also referred to as pepitas. In Mexico, they are usually called the “pepita de calabaza”, which means the little seed of squash. While pumpkin seeds are most commonly used in Mexico, they are also consumed by many communities in both North and Central America. Native American tribes have been using pumpkin seeds for many different purposes. They were not only part of their diet, but they also used pumpkin seeds for their medicinal properties. Evidence suggests that the first use of pumpkin seeds traced back until at least 1500 AD. From the Americas, pumpkin seeds were transported to various regions in the world through trade and exploration. After pumpkin seeds had been introduced in the Mediterranean and in Eastern Europe, they became part of most people’s everyday diet. The seeds later spread to India and South East Asia. In India, the seeds were not only used in the everyday cuisine but were also used in medical traditions. Currently, China is considered to be largest producer of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds. China is then followed by Mexico, India, Russia and the United States. In the United States, Illinois is the biggest pumpkin producing state. However, currently almost every state in the United States grows pumpkins and pumpkin seeds.

Mineral support

It is often said that plants which have a close relationship to the soil are a rich source of minerals and vitamins. Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are no exception to this rule. Pumpkin seeds are a source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus and have a high concentration of iron and zinc. The product is especially known for its concentration of zinc. One of the leading institutions in the world with regards to health is the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization had recommended the consumption of pumpkin seeds to everyone who would like to increase their zinc intake. The best way of consuming pumpkin seeds if you want to obtain a high level of zinc is to eat them unshelled. Various studies have shown that the shell of pumpkin seeds does not contain high levels of zinc. Beneath the skin there is a very thin layer which is called the endosperm envelope. Studies have shown that zinc is concentrated in this endosperm envelope. Since it is rather difficult to separate the shell and the endosperm envelope, it is best to eat the pumpkin seed with the shell. In this way you will be sure that you consume all the healthy properties.


Effects on cancer

Pumpkin seeds are also a source of antioxidant nutrients. Oxidative stress is known for playing a role in the development of various types of cancers. It is for this reason that researchers are conducting research on the effects of pumpkin seeds on the development of cancer. Preliminary findings have suggested that there is a decreased cancer risk with an increased intake of pumpkin seeds. However, the main focus of the study was not on the antioxidant components of pumpkin seeds but rather on lignans. The studies which have been conducted until now focus on lignans and their effects on breast cancer and prostate cancer. In order to validate these findings it is necessary that more research is conducted on the relation between pumpkin seeds and cancer. Furthermore, some of the antioxidants that pumpkin seeds contain are vitamin E and carotenoids. These antioxidants can also play a role when it comes to the reduction of inflammation. These components can also protect cells from harmful free radicals in the body and protect you from different diseases. A study which was published explored the relation between pumpkin seeds and arthritis. The study, which was published in the journal Pharmacological Research, found that inflammation amongst rats with arthritis was reduced when given pumpkin seed oil. When the rats were given anti-inflammatory drugs they experienced bad side effects.

How to select and store

Pumpkin seeds are commonly sold in supermarkets. You can find them in the nut-section of the supermarket, together with peanuts, almonds and walnuts. While there might be some supermarkets which will sell pumpkin seeds by ounce or grams, but most shops sell them in prepackaged containers. If possible, it is recommended to buy pumpkin seeds which are organic. By buying organic you will know for sure that the seeds have not been exposed to potential contaminants. Moreover, it is also recommended to buy raw pumpkin seeds so you can roast them at home. By roasting them at home, you will have more control over the roasting time and the temperature. The next paragraph will explain how you can roast pumpkin seeds at home and give you some tips on how to bring out the best flavor. When buying prepackaged pumpkin seeds, pay attention to the fact that the package is not damaged. Also, check that there is no evidence of insect damage. While this might be hard to see, do inspect the seeds carefully after you have purchased them if you are not sure. If possible, it would also be good to smell the seeds before purchasing them. In that way you will be able to indicate whether they are rancid. When storing pumpkin seeds, place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Pumpkin seeds can last up until a couple of months. However, the seeds usually lose their taste after one or two months. Thus, it is best to consume the pumpkin seeds shortly after you have bought them.

Preparing pumpkin seeds

While many stores sell roasted pumpkin seeds, it is very easy to roast pumpkin seeds yourself. By roasting them yourself, you do not only get to roast them according to your personal preference but you also have more control over the roasting process. However, you can also buy roasted seeds from the supermarket and roast them lightly at home. If you want to make your own roasted pumpkin seeds, you should follow the instructions described. The easiest is to buy a pumpkin and remove the seeds from the pumpkin. If you need to remove excess pulp, use a paper towel to remove this. Then continue to spread them on a paper bag. Leave the pumpkin seeds to dry overnight so you will be sure that they will be completely dry when you will roast them. Once the seeds are completely dry, place them on a baking sheet and roast them lightly for a maximum of 20 minutes. It is recommended to roast them at around 75 degrees. This preliminary roasting process is important. 20 minutes is said to be the threshold time for changes to occur in the fats present in the pumpkin seeds. If the seeds are roasted for longer than 20 minutes, unwanted changes occur in the fat structures of the seeds. Thus, it is important to set an alarm when putting the seeds in the oven to ensure that you do not lose these fats. Interestingly, there have been a few studies which have concluded that roasting pumpkin seeds at a temperature of about 90 degrees enhances the nutty flavor of the seeds. However, most research has states that unsaturated fats in pumpkin seeds are best preserved when the seeds are roasted at a temperate of 75 degrees. Thus, it is recommended to roast them at this temperature rather than 90 degrees.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 852x
Added: 01-11-2016 23:56
Last modified: 22-11-2016 22:49

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