Seeds and nuts are one of the healthy snacks eaten as part of the caveman diet and lifestyle. One of the best choices of these seeds are pumpkin seeds for their powerful antioxidants and healthy fats. One cup contains 285 calories plus calcium, iron, magnesium and many other nutrients that are beneficial to supporting optimal health.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc, a mineral that can help in wound healing and tissue repair. Not getting enough zinc could leave you prone to infections. However, eating the seeds in addition to other foods that fight inflammation like oysters, dark meat poultry, beans and other nuts like cashews, boost your immune system. They also provide Vitamin E, one of the powerful antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage.
Pumpkin seeds are anti-carcinogenic because they contain ingredients that are classified as phytoestrogens, which are compounds found in plants that are kind of like the estrogens found in your body. The phytoestrogens in pumpkin seeds might help regulate some factors that play a role in breast cancer development. Therefore, they may be beneficial to the prevention or treatment of breast cancer. Try adding some pumpkin seeds to salads or side dishes, or as a snack with oily fish like sardines and mackerel. Consuming these types of fish give you the best source of Omega 3's, one of the good fats that can also help prevent breast cancer. Fatty fish like these contain DHA (docosah-exaenoic acid) which is extremely important to include in your diet if you want to get the many benefits of Omega 3's.
Another way in incorporate pumpkin seeds in your diet include adding them to your breads or other baked goods. Since they are crunchy and delicious, they could also be a topping for such favorite desserts as fruit salads or ice cream. Another benefit is healthy sleep and improved mental health. Healthy sleep because they contain massive amounts of tryptophan, which your body converts into seratonin, a hormone that is essential for healthy periods of sleep and for optimal mood regulation. Just 100 grams of pumpkin seeds contain 576 milligrams of tryptophan. They are also a great source of B vitamins.
Pumpkin seeds may also be a powerful ally in supporting eye health and function since they contain Vitamin A, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, compounds that are supportive to healthy eyes. One study published by the National Eye Institute found that 80 milligrams of zinc in addition with other antioxidants lowered the risk of macular degeneration by up to 25%. Another compound that the body produces to protect the eyes is melanin which zinc and Vitamin A are vital for producing. Adding three tablespoons of pumpkin seeds per day can give you 20% of your recommended daily intake of zinc, and 50% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium and manganese. The American Optometric Association recommends zinc daily for optimal eye health.
The best way to consume pumpkin seeds is raw. The reason for this is because it's the best way to preserve their healthy fats. Buy organic when possible so they will not be contaminated by harmful chemicals and pesticides. Make sure they smell fresh and if you plan on eating them regularly, it's best that you soak them for 7-24 hours to remove all the phytic acid-an anti-nutrient that can make the previously talked about nutrients less bioavailable when eaten.
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