Pumpkin seeds bring back vivid childhood memories for me. Picture this: a small patio, my two younger brothers, and lots of pumpkin seeds.
The competition would heat up as they'd see who could spit the pumpkin seed shells the farthest. My friends and I would cheer on from the second floor balcony when taking a break from our more “civilized” activities.
During those carefree childhood days, little did we know (nor would we have cared) that this entertaining treat contained so many important nutrients.
As adults, we can appreciate that just a couple of handfuls of pumpkin seeds (1/4 cup) provide over 50 percent of your daily requirement for manganese and almost 50 percent of your magnesium requirement. If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you know that both of these are important Foundation Supplements and essential for bone health.
What Magnesium Does for Your Bones
Around 65 percent of the magnesium found in the body is deposited in the bones. Magnesium acts synergistically with calcium, but it is too often ignored. Unfortunately, modern diets lack the proper amounts, and while healthcare practitioners typically focus on the importance of calcium for bone health, they rarely recommend magnesium. A recent USDA survey revealed that close to 50 percent of women get less than 70 percent of the RDA for magnesium.
One important aspect of magnesium as it relates to bone health is that it plays a role in the production of hydrochloric acid, which is needed for the digestion and proper absorption of nutrients. If foods are not well digested, toxic acidic food residue accumulates in the body. And last but not least, magnesium regulates the parathyroid gland, which is the primary organ that controls bone mineralization.
Manganese, an Essential Trace Mineral
Manganese is necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone, and is involved in protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism. It also plays a central role in blood clotting. Like zinc and copper, it is an important activator and part of many enzyme systems, including the powerful antioxidant superoxide dismutase. Additionally, manganese plays a significant role in the formation of thyroxine, the main hormone of the thyroid gland.
The Nutrient Feast Continues
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of several other Foundation Supplements:
Copper is instrumental in the developing and maintenance of blood vessels, skin, bone, and joints.
Zinc regulates bone turnover and is necessary for the proper functioning of bone alkaline phosphatase (isoenzyme ALP-2), an enzyme involved in bone mineralization.
I cover Vitamin K in detail in the blog post, “Vitamin K: Your Osteoporosis Knight in Shining Armor”.
So Munch Away
Now that you know how good pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – are for your bone health, the kid in you can continue to enjoy this yummy snack. Read on to expand your pumpkin seed repertoire.
Roasting Your Own Pumpkin Seeds
Sure, you can buy roasted pumpkin seeds in packages, but roasting your own is healthier… and much more fun! Next time you carve your Halloween pumpkin masterpiece, don't throw away those seeds. Instead, follow these super-easy instructions and enjoy!
- Wipe the seeds off with a paper towel or rinse them in cold water to get rid of any pulp that's still sticking to them.
- Spread the seeds on a paper bag and dry them overnight.
- Transfer the seeds to a lightly oiled cookie sheet, spreading them out in a single layer.
- Roast the seeds for about 15-20 minutes at 160-170 degrees. The short roasting time and low temperature help retain the nutrients and preserve the healthy oils that pumpkin seeds contain.
- After the seeds cool, store them in an airtight container (if there are any left!).
Whether you purchase prepared pumpkin seeds or roast your own, they should be refrigerated in an airtight container. Pumpkin seeds should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within a couple of months.
Ideas for Using Pumpkin Seeds
Of course, pumpkin seeds are great on their own as a tasty and filling snack. But here are a few more ways you can add these bone health gems to your diet:
Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds on your salads or sautéed vegetables.
…a handful of chopped seeds into your hot cereal.
…whole or chopped seeds to grain dishes.
… pumpkin seeds into cookies and other baked goods, for an interesting taste twist and nutrition boost.
…your favorite salad dressing recipe or marinade with ground pumpkin seeds.
Just Part of a Bone Healthy Diet
As yummy and nutritious as pumpkin seeds are, they're not the entire answer to the bone health puzzle. No single food or supplement is. Enjoy them and reap their benefits, and remember that they're just one of many bone-healthy Foundation Foods. For the full list of Foundation Foods try the Osteoporosis Reversal Program if you haven't already.