Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy Rewind – Pumpkin Seeds Nutrient Packed snack on the go

There are certain foods that bring more than taste to your diet, rich in nutrients and energy they are worth including in your weekly shopping.

Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.

Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.

NOTE If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.

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 24 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.

Pumpkin seeds.

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.

Bone Health

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.

Cholesterol

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
  •  Included 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.

©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2022

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and:Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin

 

As always I look forward to your comments and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask them.. thanks Sally.

 

 

22 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy Rewind – Pumpkin Seeds Nutrient Packed snack on the go

  1. Very interesting article Sal. I know I had my husband taking all those things when he had his prostate cancer and he managed to dodge that one. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was fascinating, Sally. I was especially interested to know that pumpkin seeds were used in China to treat depression centuries ago.

    I love pumpkin seeds! My favorite way to eat them is roasted with a little bit of salt and a pinch of cayenne.

    Liked by 1 person

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