Welcome to the series where I provide the nutritional health benefits for a food and Carol Taylor works all week in the kitchen to provide delicious recipes to include in your regular diet. I hope you will go over to her new blog which she has just started: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/ and discover more about her beautiful home in Thailand.
This week we are going to be featuring pumpkin seeds which are not only delicious but contain some very important nutrients that make this a snack that every man should eat once or twice a day.
When I was researching my men’s health book I came across some interesting statistics with regard to the very common problem of an enlarged prostate. In fact if you live to the age of 90 – 9 out of 10 men will have the condition! Any man over the age of 50 who has a reduction in testosterone is likely to experience mild symptoms that are worth dealing with early.
Here is a link that you might find useful if you are a man in your 50s, or a partner of a man in his 50s, as I have found it is often the person closest to you who notices the changes to your body and behaviour. Enlarged Prostate
As with any alternative therapy it is not permitted to claim that it works unless there is official permission to do so. However, after 20 years of working in nutrition and herbal therapies I have certainly seen some benefits clearly in myself and those I have worked with.
This includes today’s featured food. Pumpkin Seeds will offer a great many benefits to the whole body but they may also have a therapeutic effect on an enlarged prostate.
Thankfully enlightened scientists are researching the properties and benefits of many of our foods and hopefully in the future their use will be considered as part of any treatment plan. And as I always say, 1000’s of years of natural medicine across the world cannot be all wrong! Certainly it is unlikely that eating pumpkin seeds regularly will do as much harm as perhaps taking long term medication.
But, if already taking a prescribed medicine for any condition do not suddenly stop without the knowledge of your doctor.
When you look at a handful of pumpkin seeds it is very hard to imagine that each flat dark green ‘pepita’ is packed full of nutrients. Normally eaten roasted these nutty seeds contain protein, fibre, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, all nutrients that provide essential ingredients for good health. They also contain trace amounts of calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, folate and B3 as well as Linolenic acid a property that prevents hardening of the arteries.
They also contain the amino acids arginine and glutamic acid that are also included in the nutrients directory in the link beneath the post.
The therapeutic origins of Pumpkin Seeds.
As with many of our natural remedies, pumpkin and their seeds played a vital role in the diet and health of the American Indian. Not only were they used for male health but also for urinary tract infections and in China they are regarded as a remedy for depression probably due to the presence of good levels of tryptophan and B3.
As with the melon, cucumber and squash the pumpkin belongs to the gourd or Cucurbitaceae family but pumpkin seeds are the most adaptable for consumption in their own right.
Pumpkin seeds and Prostate health
The reputation enjoyed by pumpkin seeds may be thousands of years in the making but modern research is backing the long held health claims.
It is thought that the oil containing cucurbitacins in the seeds may reduce the hormonal changes from testosterone to dihydrotestosterone that damages and increases the number of prostate cells that results in an enlarged prostate. It is also thought that they may well reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Zinc in the seeds is also an important mineral as it helps to maintain semen volume and health as well as adequate levels of testosterone necessary for a healthy sex drive. The prostate gland actually contains the highest concentration of zinc in the body and certainly foods containing zinc may relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Apart from its effect on the health of our arteries, it is thought that the Linolenic acid in pumpkin seeds may also improve urine flow among men with enlarged prostate glands.
The selenium in the seeds has many functions in the body but importantly in the case of the male reproductive system it is also believed to improve sperm motility and mobility. It is interesting that nearly 50% of a man’s selenium is found in his testes and it is lost through ejaculation in the semen. Selenium also may protect against enlargement of the prostate as well as reduce damage to the cells that might develop into prostate cancer.
As an antioxidant, selenium may prevent oxidative damage to fats, vitamins, hormones and enzymes involved in normal prostate functioning.
Zinc in the seeds is also an important mineral that promotes bone density an often overlooked factor as men get older. It is often assumed that it is post-menopausal women who are most at risk of hip fractures but in fact nearly a third of these fractures are suffered by men. Declining hormone levels effect men as they reach their fifties and sixties and osteoporosis of the hip and spine are becoming more common as our modern lifestyle results in nutritional deficiencies.
Another side effect of modern life is the increasing levels of unhealthy oxidised LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol in our bloodstream. Although 80% of our cholesterol is manufactured by our livers, if we consume a high sugar, processed food diet full of trans fats we end up with far more than our overworked systems can cope with and process. It then is subjected to free radical damage and forms plaque in the arteries, blocking them and resulting in high blood pressure and ultimately heart disease.
As in the herb Saw Palmetto, phytosterols in pumpkin seeds actively work to reduce the levels of unhealthy cholesterol in our blood stream and eating a handful every day is much healthier in my opinion than eating the very expensive and hydrogenated alternative spreads to butter currently touted in our supermarkets. This also applies to sesame seeds, which has the highest phytosterol content as well as unsalted pistachios and sunflower seeds.
Other health benefits
I consider pumpkin seeds to be a must for everyone’s shopping list due to the nutritional density supplied by just one handful.
In addition to prostate, bone and the health of our arteries, eating pumpkin seeds may well help reduce the inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. In recent studies it was shown that not only did pumpkin seeds work as well as some prescribed medication but it did not have the unwelcome side effects and long term potential to further damage the lining of the joints.
My advice to my male clients is to have a handful of pumpkin seeds everyday as a mid-morning snack. They are also delicious sprinkled on salads and I also use in fresh baked bread. A really tasty way for the whole family to enjoy the taste of pumpkin and other seeds is in the form of a butter. There are a number of recipes online but basically you toast the seeds for about 15 minutes in the oven on a baking sheet and then put into a food processor adding a little virgin oil or coconut oil to the mix to provide a smooth butter finish.
Delicious and good for you.
Time now to hand you over to the creative Carol Taylor with some recipes that elevate these simple seeds into family favourites.
Pumpkin Seeds a multitude of ways.
Packed with vitamins, minerals and lots of fibre is the Pumpkin seed, now how many of you just throw them in the bin, and don’t give it a second thought as to just what you are throwing away??? Me for one….
I can also hear you saying well they look different to the ones we see in a packet in the shops…Yes they do! The dark seeds we buy in the shops are the inner kernel and quite tricky to extract…I used to feed our African Grey Parrot on these and it was fascinating to watch him hook the end of his beak in the seed and he got inside… no trouble…He also did it very delicately I will add…
How to cook those seeds.
Wash all the pith and soft pulp off them, and then pick the small to medium size seeds, as the large ones can be quite tough to eat.
Boil the seeds for 5-10 minutes, drain and let them dry …I normally do mine either in the morning if I want to cook in the evening or vice versa.
When you are ready to cook then toss the seeds in 1-2 tbsp oil and season…
You can season them with paprika, chilli, cumin, rock salt and pepper, brown sugar and honey or olive oil and maple syrup then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon…
I promise you, you will not be able to stop eating these they are scrumptious.
If there are any left then keep in an airtight container and eat within 2/3 days as they tend to lose their crunch.
Sprinkled over Salads or vegetables pumpkin seeds are healthier than nuts.
Fig, nut & pumpkin seed bread.
- 400ml hot strong black tea
- 100g dried fig , hard stalks removed, thinly sliced
- 140g sultana
- 50g porridge oat
- 200g self-raising wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazils, hazelnuts), plus 50g for the topping
- 1 tbsp golden linseed
- 1 tbsp sesame seed, plus 2 tsp to sprinkle
- 25g pumpkin seed
- 1 large egg
Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3½. Pour the tea into a large bowl and stir in the figs, sultanas and oats. Set aside to soak.
Line the base and sides of a 1kg loaf tin with baking parchment. Mix together the flour, baking powder, nuts and seeds. Beat the egg into the cooled fruit mixture, and then stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Pour into the tin, then level the top and scatter with the extra nuts and sesame seeds.
Bake for 1 hr, then cover the top with foil and bake for 15 mins more until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the tin to cool, but leave the parchment on until cold.
This bread is lovely cut into slices, spread with ricotta and serve with fruit.
It will keep in the fridge for 1 month, or can be frozen in slices which I do as hubby doesn’t like anything with seeds
Or you can make a lovely pumpkin butter like Sally has suggested in her section of this post and very nice it is…
Pumpkin seed, chocolate and cranberry Cookies.
- 200 gm Butter, softened
- ¼ cup Peanut butter, chunky style
- 1 cup Brown sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups Flour
- 1 tsp Baking soda
- 2 cups Rolled oats
- 1 cup Dark chocolate, chopped
- 100 gm Pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried cranberries
Heat oven to 190C.
Beat butter and peanut butter together. Beat in sugar then egg and vanilla essence.
Sift in flour and baking soda. Add rolled oats, chocolate, pumpkin seeds and cranberries and mix to combine
Roll mixture in 2-tablespoon amounts into balls and place on an oven tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire cake rack.
You can also sprinkle some seasoned pumpkin seeds over a lovely bowl of warming pumpkin soup… Very nice…
I hope you have enjoyed this post on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds and never ever, throw them in the bin again…
I know I won’t!
A huge thanks to Carol for providing these wonderful recipes this week, especially as she had a busy schedule. If you have a special way that you prepare pumpkin seeds then please share in the comments. thanks Sally
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US