Do you carve pumpkins each year? If you do, but don’t normally save the seeds for roasting, find out why you should.
The Great Pumpkin
This brightly-colored fruit from the squash family is native to North America and dates back 7,500 to 9,000 years. Pumpkin has been used as a food source for thousands of years, both for the fleshy fruit, seeds and edible flowers. Today in Mexico, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are still used as a popular ingredient in traditional dishes, like mole. You may see pepitas at the grocery store that look a bit different from the pumpkin seeds you know—these flat, light green seeds are actually the soft seed found inside the edible shell (hull) of a pumpkin seed.
A superfood, pumpkin seeds pack a ton of nutrients. The top benefit is the seed’s high levels of heart-healthy magnesium—a half cup almost completes your recommended daily value. Pumpkin seeds are also full of zinc, which boosts your immune system and cell growth, and is important for prostate health. (Both the zinc and magnesium make them a particularly great food for men!) Full of protein and fiber, these seeds are a great snack that can also reduce your bad cholesterol. And you know tryptophan, the mood-boosting amino acid that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner? Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of this; a handful a few hours before bed may help you get a better night’s sleep.
Have fun and be safe carving your pumpkins! And if you’re curious about the story behind carving pumpkins, read the Irish folklore about “Stingy Jack.”