10 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds: From Hair to Skin, Fertility, Sleep, and MoreLuke Coutinho
Today we will discuss the health benefits of pumpkin seeds. An absolute powerhouse of nutrients, did you know that a cup of pumpkin seeds can give you 19 grams of pure protein? Pumpkin seeds are rich in amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. These seeds are also rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and everything your body needs to build your immune system – the first and last line of defense.
Pumpkin seeds are easily available. In all honesty, they are supposed to be inexpensive. But because the world has tagged them as a superfood, supermarkets now sell them at exorbitant prices. Want to find good quality and ethically-sourced pumpkin seeds, you can find them here.
Let’s learn more about what makes these seeds so nutritious.
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc
In our line of work, we come across people day in and out who look at diet and exercise as a way of getting healthier and a way of losing weight. But based on our practice that spans the last decade, we can tell you this. We need to start thinking beyond just nutrition and exercise. Because the world’s been trying to focus on just these two pillars for the longest time. Yet we have sickness and people who struggle to lose weight. We need to move to simplicity and begin addressing the basics. Before hopping onto one plan after another, ask yourself – is the root cause of your condition a nutritional deficiency?
One such deficiency is zinc. All of you may have heard about zinc at some point. You find it in multivitamins. It is a trace mineral that your body needs in small quantities. But a deficiency of this mineral can impact your body in many ways. It can explain why your immunity is low, why your inflammation is rising, why you may be struggling with losing weight or getting rid of that stubborn belly fat, or even why you have a hormonal imbalance.
One of the richest sources of zinc that you can add to your meals to bridge this gap is pumpkin seeds.
What happens when you have a zinc deficiency? How can pumpkin seeds help?
Many of us struggle with food cravings and blame stress and our emotional health. But did you know that a deficiency of zinc can drive an increase in appetite or cravings in your body? We often tell our patients that they shouldn’t have to fight cravings using willpower because willpower has a shelf life. You can hang in for a day, week, or a month if you are that disciplined. But you will finally crash and binge. You get stuck in the vicious cycle of giving in to your cravings, eating, and then being depressed about not getting the results.
The simple route is to address if you have a vitamin or a mineral deficiency. Correcting it will help you fix over a hundred different actions and reactions in the human body. So if you’re struggling with cravings and an unexplained change in appetite where you feel hungry all the time, and your mind begins to justify it as emotional eating, you need to correct your zinc deficiency.
Before you start running from pillar to post, doctor-to-doctor, dermatologist-to-dermatologist, and nutritionist-to-nutritionist to get food plans, expensive supplements, shampoos, and creams that prevent hair loss, take a step back. Check if you have a zinc deficiency. Even a 1% deficiency of zinc will make your hair fall. So, fix that first under the guidance of your health and integrative expert.
One in two people today suffer from gut issues – acidity, bloating, flatulence, the inability to digest gluten and lactose, Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a leaky gut, Crohn’s disease, and so on. Did you also know that science today links autoimmune conditions to poor gut health? One of the trace minerals you need to maintain the health of your gut is zinc. It helps strengthen your gut walls and your colon.
Yes, any disease is multifactorial. But if you have a zinc deficiency, fixing it can contribute to better gut health. Whole pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber. It makes them great for your gut and bowel movement. Pumpkin seeds are also highly alkaline. It means that they neutralize acidity in the body.
Look at the number of infertility clinics sprouting up all over the country. Today, if you don’t get pregnant in three to four months, the next thing you are advised is to visit an infertility clinic. Yet no one is looking at the high prolactin levels caused by chronic stress. If you have high prolactin, you cannot conceive. So you have to manage your stress because your body cannot support another life if you are perpetually stressed.
Science also links infertility to a deficiency of zinc. So, zinc-rich pumpkin seeds improve sperm quality and fertility among men. They help increase testosterone levels. Zinc-rich foods are also beneficial during pregnancy for the mother’s immunity and the baby’s growth.
Before you decide to jump on the bandwagon of infertility clinics, get your basics right. Check your stress levels, sleep quality, eating habits, and if you have a zinc deficiency.
Chronic fatigue throughout the day is a sign of a magnesium and zinc deficiency. We always tell people who run marathons – the cramps they get in their calves and the stiffness they feel is due to this deficiency.
Eat a banana and a couple of pumpkin seeds before your race and during and after your training. Load up on that zinc and magnesium and watch your chronic fatigue disappear.
Understand this. A deficiency of zinc will upset your hormonal balance. From PCOD to thyroid and even weight gain – each of these issues is hormonal. Your inability to lose weight or the reason you are probably putting on weight despite eating and exercising well could be a hormonal imbalance.
Remember, weight loss is about communication between hormones. If you have the right communication, you allow the body to lose weight. On the other hand, if you have the wrong communication and force your body to lose weight, it will not happen. One of the steps, in this case, is to address your deficiencies and fix them.
If you have any endocrinological health issues ask yourself – Do I have enough zinc? Am I eating foods that have the right amount of zinc for fat loss? Even among men struggling with belly fat – zinc is required to make the sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone provides you with the energy to lean muscle mass. And when we have lean muscle, we have a higher metabolic rate. This in turn helps us burn fat more efficiently. So give your body what it needs in the right quantity to create the right hormones and burn fat.
If you have frequent coughs, colds, and flu – it is a sign of dampened immunity. And again zinc is considered an immunity booster. If you have a deficiency of zinc you are not allowing your immunity to do what it does best – heal you. So, fix this deficiency. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with Vitamin E and zinc. While Vitamin E boosts your immune response, zinc lowers inflammation and keeps allergies and pathogens at bay, boosting overall immunity. Pumpkin seeds are also praised for their antifungal, antiviral properties, and antimicrobial properties.
Did you know zinc is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent? The job of antioxidants is to strike down and remove free radicals from your body. What are these free radicals and why are they dangerous? Free radicals change the DNA structure of your cells and can create cell mutations. They contribute to inflammation and inturn disease. Most cardiovascular cases cannot be solely blamed on cholesterol. We are blinded to think that most heart strokes and cardiac arrests are caused by cholesterol, but it is caused by uncontrolled and chronic inflammation in your arteries.
A deficiency of magnesium and zinc also contributes to inflammation. When you correct this deficiency and have foods that contain magnesium and zinc like pumpkin seeds you are automatically on an anti-inflammatory eating plan. Magnesium also helps lower your blood pressure, bad cholesterol (LDL ) levels, and triglycerides. This can reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Many people suffering from joint pain or rheumatoid arthritis are popping painkillers to deal with flare-ups that may provide temporary relief but destroy your gut health. Something as simple as correcting your zinc deficiency can change this. Rich in magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds are considered beneficial for your bone health.
Zinc is important when it comes to regulating the way insulin is produced and utilized by the cells in your body. It is beneficial for those with diabetes due to its zinc and magnesium content that help control glucose levels (glycaemic control). But remember, zinc is not a magic trace mineral. Diabetes isn’t just about reducing your sugar but also losing belly fat, getting adequate activity, quality sleep, and looking after your emotional health.
Did you know pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, zinc, and magnesium which makes them excellent to promote good sleep? Tryptophan, an amino acid, is a precursor to serotonin ( your happy hormone) and melatonin (your sleep hormone). This means that it converts itself into serotonin and then into melatonin. If you have the right amount of melatonin, not only do you sleep better but you also have a deeper quality of sleep. When melatonin is being produced, it also repairs your immunity. Did you know melatonin is also known as the anti-cancer hormone?
Melatonin is produced and secreted in the absence of light, which is why we encourage our patients to practice digital detox and cut off from gadgets two hours before bed. The artificial or blue light from these devices disrupts the production of melatonin which can lead to disturbed sleep patterns and sleep deprivation. All of you already know what that does to your body. So get your dose of zinc, magnesium, and tryptophan from pumpkin seeds. Don’t forget to pay attention to other aspects of your lifestyle like meditation, movement, emotional health, and balanced meals too.
How do you get pumpkin seeds in your diet?
Many people consume pumpkin seeds raw. But we suggest that you always soak it overnight because nuts and seeds have anti-nutrients that can prevent and block the absorption of nutrients into your cells.
You can also dry and toast them. You can add these to your smoothies, fruits, salads, soups, cakes, energy bars, stir-fries, and so on.
Add pumpkin seeds to your lifestyle and tell us how they worked for you.
Disclaimer: Please keep your healthcare provider in the loop before introducing any new food item into your lifestyle, especially if you have a medical health condition or are on medications. In case you are allergic to certain foods, please avoid the same.
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