Crunchy Savoury Pumpkin Seeds: What Can They Do For You?
Toasting Pumpkin Seeds
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Tired of the regular old fare that graces your dining table and your cupboards? Looking for a culinary sensation that's a change from the same old same old? Or a snack that's both healthful and delicious, that isn't exactly what you've always had before?
Well, if you haven't had them before then how about giving pumpkin seeds a whirl, instead of your usual peanuts or cashews? Great for a snack on the sofa in front of the tv, and a lot better for you than potato chips, I'd assert.
What are the benefits of pumpkin seeds? They're high in monounsaturated fat, which has been asserted to be kind to heart health.5 How much monounsaturated fat? Consulting the Nutritiondata website, they have a whopping 29.7 grams per 227 gram serving,1 so that ain't stingy!
And for the vegetarians and vegans, there's the zinc content of pumpkin seeds to consider. Again taking a look at Nutritondata, they have 16.9 milligrams per 227 gram serving.1 Which isn't too bad compared to the RDA for a male of over 19 years of age, of 15 milligrams,`2 although dwarfed by non-veggie options such as canned oysters (147 milligrams per 162 grams)3 or veal liver (9.0 milligrams per 80 grams).4 Do pumpkin seeds have any value in fighting disease? Qi et al mention them as potentially useful in the battle against diabetes, infection, cancer and oxidative stress, amongst other ailments and conditions.6
But never mind their nutritional status: what do pumpkin seeds taste like? Are you actually going to want to eat them? They certainly have an unusual and distinctive taste when you first come to them, but it's far from unpleasant. You may prefer them raw, perhaps straight out of the shell: my own preference is sold ready-shelled, and then lightly toasted at home. (You have to be very careful about the timing, though, and preferably never far away from the oven or toaster. It's one of those things where they go from not quite done to burnt in the very blink of an eye!
And once you're done toasting your pumpkin seeds, go crazy! Add them to your muesli, add them to your bread. Personally I like them in savoury scones with a whole lot of Italian seasoning and maybe a little grated cheese. Mmmm, yes! They're pretty good in a stir-fry (although I wouldn't toast them first for that.)
Or of course, you could just eat them as is. Just snaffle them down, toasty and savoury and delicious, still warm out of the oven. I'm just sayin'.
1 Nutritiondata.self.com website. Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt [pepitas].' Nutritiondata.self.com website. Updated 2012. Available at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3067/2
2 NIH. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc. http://ods.od.nih.gov Updated 20/09/2011. Available at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
3 Nutritiondata.self.com website. Mollusks, oyster, eastern, canned. Updated 2012. Available at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4192/2
4 Nutritiondata.self.com website. Beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, pan-fried. Updated 2012. Available at http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3470/2.
5 www.heart.org website. 'Monounsaturated fats.' 'Updated 2012. Available at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/FatsAndOils/Fats101/Monounsaturated-Fats_UCM_301460_Article.jsp Accessed on 15/09/2012.
6 H Qi, Y Yang, L Wang, Y Xu, S Qu. Determination of Bioactive ingredients In Five Pumpkin Seeds Cultivars'. Advanced Materials Research. 554-557 (985-989). 2012.
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