Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds and A Pumpkin Seed Salsa Recipe
One year I was looking at some amazing pumpkin carvings that my sweet friend Gordon had done and I was inspired. As I pondered his artistic work, I started to think about the pumpkin. It came to me that the pumpkin wasn’t just another pretty face! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.) The pumpkin is native to North America, but is cultivated all over the world. The meat of the pumpkin is very high in carotenoids. Carotenoids are what give pumpkins their orange color.
Carotenoids are really good at neutralizing free radicals, which are nasty molecules that can attack cell membranes and leave those cells vulnerable to damage. Today we are not going to talk about the pumpkin itself, but its seeds, those yummy wonders that come out of the pumpkin. In fact, I think that is the only reason I even carve a pumpkin, so that I can get the seeds and roast them.
Botanical Name: Cucurbia Pepo, semillas de calabaza
Family: Cucurbitaceae (pumpkin/gourd)
Common Name: Pepitas
Harvest/Part used: This is the perfect time of year to collect and harvest pumpkin seeds. All you need is a beautiful fall day, and a good pumpkin patch. Use the seeds of a ripe pumpkin.
Toxicity: None known.
Herb/Drug Interactions: Unknown, although a prolonged combined use of pumpkin seeds and diuretics such as furosemide, for example, should be monitored closely.
Constituents: Triterpenes (cucurbitacins), carotenoids, fatty acids, minerals, tocopherols, lignans
Preparation: Scoop out the seeds from the inside of a pumpkin. Have fun doing this. It’s a good excuse to get messy. Wash the seeds well and set them out to dry on racks. A food dehydrator which goes low enough to keep them alive is great. My favorite dehydrator is the Excalibur. Temperatures above 118 degrees kill the enzymes, making them no longer raw. Keep the seeds in their shells until ready to use, and store in a cool dry place. I use a Mason jar. When ready to use, shell the seeds, eating a few as you go.
Actions and Therapeutic uses: When using pumpkin seeds medicinally, they need to be used raw. In the warm parts of the world, pumpkin seeds are one of the first things used for treating worms, including tapeworms and roundworms. This is a great way to help de-worm that new puppy, and it’s very easy to get the puppy to eat the freshly ground seeds in its food.
Getting children to eat pumkin seeds is also very easy. Just grind up the raw seeds and use them like peanut butter on a stick of celery. The seeds can help with bedwetting in children.
ADDITIONAL THERAPEUTIC USES OF PUMPKIN SEEDS:
- Soothe the irritation that can come with a bladder infection.
- They are rich in zinc and can help with enlarged prostates.
- Balance male hormone production.
- Reduce nausea and motion sickness.
- They are are high in beta carotenes and a rare amino acid called myosin. Myosin is the main protein constituent of all the muscles in the body, and plays an important role in the contraction of muscles.
- The seeds also have L- tryptophan which has been used to help with sleep, and sometimes even depression.
- The oil can been used topically to help heal wounds and to soothe chapped and/or burned skin.
- Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients. In ¼ cup raw seeds you will find 52% of the daily value of manganese, 45% of magnesium, 42% of phosphorus, 35% of tryptophan, 30% of iron, 25% of copper, 25% of vitamin K, 20% of zinc and 20% of protein.
PUMPKIN SEED SALSA
This recipe came to me from one of my closest friends, Leilani Paki, NTP. She and I do lots of cooking (and eating) together.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 cup raw or toasted pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
- 2-4 diced tomatoes
- 1 small can of green chilies, diced (or if you are really adventurous, roast a fresh one yourself)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice to taste
Combine all ingredients, stir, and serve either room temperature or chilled.
- The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.org/
ABOUT TRACY BOSNIAN
Tracy Bosnian, JH, CH, NTP, takes great delight in herbs and food, which makes her chosen path perfect for her. Tracy was born in Oklahoma, and as a small child moved to Hawai’i. She uses the statement, “I am a true blend of ‘Southern Aloha'” to describe herself.
She has been teaching medicinal herbalism classes since 1995 and completed her studies as a Chartered Herbalist from Dominion Herbal College in 2001. She graduated as a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) in 2005. Tracy is currently practicing as an NTP and Western Herbalist in Portland, OR.
CONTACT THE HERBALIST
Have a question for the Herbalist Tracy Bosnian? Send her an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
She’d love to answer your inquiries or provide feedback on special uses for various herbs.