How Eating This Seasonal Staple Year-Round Can Make You Happier and Healthier

(Photo: Minimalist Baker)

From the delicious recipes to the beautiful patches, pumpkins in all their round orange glory epitomize what it means to celebrate autumn.

But while we are big fans of pumpkins, they're actually good for more than just our pumpkin spice lattes and jack-o'-lanterns. This Halloween when you carve your pumpkin, don't throw out those goopy seeds. Instead, keep them aside and make good use of them.

Emerging research has found pumpkin seeds offer an impressive and long-lasting cocktail of health enhancing and disease fighting compounds, vitamins and minerals for a better and improved well-being.

Aids in better sleep
We know how important sleep is to our body and diet, but the fact remains that nearly 70 million adults in the U.S. have trouble sleeping, with the CDC reporting it as a "public health problem." Thankfully, pumpkin seeds are fortified with magnesium and tryptophan — an amino acid that plays a crucial role in improving our sleep cycle. The American Journal of Sports Medicine suggests tryptophan doses as low as 1 gram daily will significantly improve quality of sleep and subjective sleep quality.

Promotes a healthier mental well-being
The holidays are around the corner and with it come a whirlwind of emotions and moods that often turn into anxiety or depression. Since we must always consider the health of our brain and mental state of mind, pumpkin seeds are an efficient form of help. In addition to improving memory thanks to its high omega-3 fatty acids as reported by the University of Maryland, tryptophan found in pumpkin seeds induces a state of calmness, beneficial for those with anxiety. The University of Michigan suggests L-tryptophan helps in the synthesis of serotonin, a chemical that enhances our moods and prevents depression.

Helps maintain a healthy weight
In addition to being convenient to much on, pumpkin seeds in all their tiny beauty are an excellent source of dietary fiber. A cup alone contains 12 grams of fiber and protein, making it the perfect weight loss snack that will keep you full and promote healthy gastrointestinal function. The University of Kentucky found increasing your fiber not only reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure, but also helps lower the risk of developing obesity and hypertension. However, since they are high in calories, pumpkin seeds could exacerbate weight gain if not eaten in moderation.

Maintains blood sugar levels
Pumpkin is starchy, but it is has a very low glycemic index level. This simply means it breaks down easier and is absorbed more slowly into the blood stream, creating a steady rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Moreover, because of its high magnesium content, the American Diabetes Association reports whole grains and nuts like pumpkin seeds can help regulate sugar levels and may significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.


Reduces inflammation
While packed with high levels of zinc, calcium and copper — perfect for their positive effects on osteoporosis and bone health — pumpkin seeds are also chock full of antioxidants responsible for preventing and reducing inflammation. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and proteins, a study in the American Journal of Immunology found adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can help to repair and keep tissue healthy, while also preventing further inflammation and protecting cells from harmful free radicals.

Strengthens heart health
By now we know pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, but this combination also has incredible benefits for your heart. According to Serbian medical journal, Medical Review, an ingredient called "alpha-linolenic acid" found in the seeds has been proven to prevent cardiovascular diseases and decrease the risk for thrombosis and arrhythmia, which leads to a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death.