During this time of year, pumpkin spiced products are everywhere. There are pumpkin spice lattes, cupcakes, and even Oreos. It gets all the attention, but there’s another pumpkin product you should be paying attention to. The seeds. Most people are sure to come across more than a handful of pumpkin seeds while carving Jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween. Your initial instinct might be to throw the seeds out with the rest of the pumpkin guts, but you should really save them. Pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack with a variety of nutritional and health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are packed full of plant-based protein. 1 cup contains about 11.87 grams of protein. Additionally, they’re rich in a plant-based from of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Normally, that sort of “good fat” is found in certain types of fish and is essential for improving heart health, fighting cholesterol, and improving brain function. That makes pumpkin seeds a perfect alternative to meat for vegetarians and vegans. But that’s not all! The seeds are also high in fiber and several minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Magnesium is instrumental in regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also plays a role in the synthesis of RNA and DNA. It’s pretty important, yet most Americans aren’t getting enough of the vital mineral. Pumpkins seeds are a good source of potassium, too. The banana is the best-known source of the mineral, but a cup of pumpkin seeds actually contains more potassium than a medium sized banana. It’s important for regulating fluids, contracting muscles, and maintaining blood pressure. A healthy intake of potassium can also reduce the risk of kidney stones. You’re immune system will thank you for snacking on some pumpkin seeds, too. They’re full of zinc, which stimulates immune function. Turkey’s not the only thing that will make you sleepy this thanksgiving, either. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid, which your body turns into serotonin and then into melatonin. Eating some seeds before bed will make for a pleasant mood and restful sleep. Some research also suggests that pumpkin seed oil could have anti-inflammatory properties. Can you believe you’ve just been throwing them out this entire time? So remember to save a few during your next pumpkin carving session!
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