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Around this time of year, the humble pumpkin takes centre stage as part of Halloween tradition. But, before you start carving and decorating your pumpkin, spare a thought for the seeds within - they are filled with so many great health benefits you have no reason not to include them in your diet all year round.
The discovery of pumpkin seeds dates back to 7,000 BC, as discovered by archaeologists who found traces in Mexican caves but it was North American tribes that were the first to harness its health benefits. It was a staple part of their diet and was integrated into their medicinal remedies also.
Today, studies into the seed have proven that it deserves super-food status. Here's our top reasons why you should be snacking on pumpkins seeds from now on.
1. Lowers bad cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds are high in phytosterols which are great at fighting off low density lipoprotein (LDL) - the type of cholesterol in our bodies that does us harm. The phytosterols work by blocking the absorption of LDL during digestion, and in turn reducing the amount of cholesterol in our bloodstream. A study conducted by University Hospital Dr Peset in Valencia, Spain in 2011 found that pumpkin seeds were a great way to control your cholesterol levels and improve your overall heart health. Pumpkin seeds have also been found to help boost the good variety of cholesterol - HDL - in women and reduce blood pressure.
2. Keeps bones healthy
Osteoporosis is a serious problem in older generations, especially for women, but including a daily dose of pumpkin seeds could help ward it off. The seeds have a high level of zinc, a mineral which people who suffer from brittle bones or regular bone fractures are usually deficient in. A small serving of pumpkin seeds delivers 17 per cent of your recommended daily intake of zinc which could help prevent bone problems in the long run.
3. It's a mood booster
While pumpkin seeds have plenty of nutrients to help your body, they can also help your mind. recent studies found that taking dry pumpkin seeds with glucose could help anxiety and panic attacks, as well as some forms of depression. Recent studies found that for women going through the menopause, their mood swings and hot flashes were reduced when they took pumpkin seed oil every day.
4. Decreases your risk of diabetes
If you are finding it hard to control your blood sugar levels, snacking on pumpkin seeds could help. As they are high in iron and unsaturated fats, researchers have found that it may help the body to manage insulin levels and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. Helps weight loss
If you're looking to shed a few pounds before the party season this year, snacking on pumpkin seeds could help. They are high in fibre and protein - both of which are important if you want to feel fuller for longer and avoid the biscuit tin.