Top 11 Proven Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

  • Fiber: 1.7 grams.
  • Carbs: 5 grams.
  • Protein: 7 grams.
  • Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s).
  • Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorous: 33% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 42% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 37% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 23% of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 14% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 19% of the RDI.

They also contain lots of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate.

Pumpkin seeds and seed oil also contain many other nutrients that have been shown to provide health benefits (2, 3).

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 151 calories.

2. High in Antioxidants

pumpkin seeedsPumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids (the yellow, red, and orange colors in vegetables) and vitamin E.

Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. Because of this, consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help protect against many different diseases.

It is thought that the high levels of antioxidants in pumpkins seeds are partly responsible for their positive effects on health.

In one study, inflammation was reduced when rats with arthritis were given pumpkin seed oil. Rats given an anti-inflammatory drug experienced negative side effects, whereas rats given pumpkin seed oil had no side effects.

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.

3. Linked to a Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers

Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower levels of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers (5).

A large observational study found that eating them was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (9).

Others studies suggest that the lignans in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer (10). Lignans are special plant chemicals that can help to balance hormones.

Further test-tube studies found that a supplement containing pumpkin seeds had the potential to slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Bottom Line: Some evidence suggests that pumpkin seeds may help to prevent certain cancers.

4. Improve Prostate and Bladder Health

Pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition where the prostate gland enlarges and can cause problems with urination.

Several studies in humans found that eating these seeds reduced symptoms that are associated with BPH (13).

A study of over 1,400 men looked at the effects of consuming pumpkin seeds on BPH. After one year, men receiving them reported reduced symptoms and a better quality of life.

There is also research to suggest that taking pumpkin seeds or their products as supplements can help treat symptoms of an overactive bladder.

One study found that taking a supplement of 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily improved urinary function in 45 men and women with overactive bladders.

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.

5. Very High in Magnesium

magnesium pumpkin seedsPumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. This is important, since magnesium deficiency is common in many Western countries.

In the US, around 79% of adults had a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount.

Magnesium is necessary for more than 600 chemical reactions in the body. Adequate levels of magnesium are important for:

  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Reducing heart disease risk
  • Forming and maintaining healthy bones (19).
  • Regulating blood sugar levels

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure, heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels.

6. May Improve Heart Health

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids, all of which may help keep your heart healthy.

Animal studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil can help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

These are two important risk factors for heart disease.

A study involving 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7% and increased the “good” HDL cholesterol by 16% over a 12-week period (25).

Other studies suggest that it may be the nitric oxide enzymes contained in pumpkin seed oil that are responsible for its positive effects on heart health.

Nitric oxide helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in the arteries.

Bottom Line: Nutrients in pumpkin seeds may help keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol.

7. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar.

This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.

Several studies have found that supplementing the diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.

An observational study involving over 127,000 men and women found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34% lower risk in women.

More research is needed to confirm this beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds may help reduce blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed.

8. Very High in Fiber

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber. Whole seeds provide 5.2 grams of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-gram) serving.

However, pumpkin kernels with the shell removed contain 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. These are the green pumpkin seeds available in most supermarkets.

A diet high in fiber can promote good digestive health.

In addition, high-fiber diets have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Bottom Line: Whole pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

9. May Improve Sperm Quality

Low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men.

Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may help improve sperm quality.

Evidence from one study in mice suggests they may also help protect human sperm from damage caused by chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases.

Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health.

Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in men.

Bottom Line: The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds may help improve sperm quality and fertility in men.

10. May Help Improve Sleep

If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before bed. They’re a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.

Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is thought to help improve sleep.

However, you would need to eat around 7 oz (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds to get the necessary 1 gram of tryptophan.

The zinc in these seeds can also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.

In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep (34).

Some small studies have found that taking a magnesium supplement improved sleep quality and total sleep time in people with low magnesium levels (35, 36).

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium, all of which help promote good sleep.

11. Easy to Add to Your Diet

If you’d like to experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they’re easy to incorporate into your diet.

In many countries, they’re a popular snack that can be eaten either raw or roasted, salted or unsalted.

As well as eating them alone, you can add them to smoothies or to Greek yogurt and fruit.

You could incorporate them into meals by sprinkling them into salads, soups or cereals. Some people use pumpkin seeds in baking, as an ingredient for sweet or savory bread and cakes.

However, as with many seeds and nuts, they contain phytic acid, which can reduce the bioavailability of some nutrients you eat.

If you eat seeds and nuts regularly, you may want to soak or sprout them to reduce the phytic acid content. Roasting them may also help.

Bottom Line: Pumpkin seeds can be easily incorporated into the diet as a snack or as an additional ingredient in meals or baking.

Do Pumpkin Seeds Have Any Other Benefits?

The rich nutrient content of pumpkin seeds means they may provide many other health benefits, such as improved energy, mood and immune function.

Eating them can help solve dietary deficiencies and may protect against various health problems.

This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.

Article Source: https://authoritynutrition.com

Related Article: New Chart on the Benefits of Seeds: Flax, Chia, Pumpkin

Juicing vs Whole Fruits and Veggies: Which is Better?

Fresh Vegetable Juices

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Shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, maker of the effective calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.
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Fruits and vegetables are good for your body.

Some of them even help fight chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Interestingly, a method called “juicing” has become increasingly popular in recent years.

This involves extracting the nutritious juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Many people do this in order to “detox” or add more nutrients to their diets.

Supporters claim that juicing can improve nutrient absorption, while others say it strips away important nutrients like fiber.

This is a detailed review of juicing and its health effects, both good and bad.

What is Juicing?

Juicing is a process that extracts the juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.

This usually strips away most of the solid matter, including seeds and pulp, from whole fruits and vegetables.

The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants naturally present in the whole fruit or vegetable.

Juicing Methods

Juicing methods vary, from squeezing fruit by hand to the more commonly used motor-driven juicers.

These are two common types of juicers:

  • Centrifugal juicers: These juicers grind fruits and vegetables into pulp through a high-speed spinning action.
  • Cold-press juicers: Also called masticating juicers, these crush and press fruits and vegetables much more slowly to get as much juice as possible.

Cold-press juicers don’t produce heat, so they do not cause the breakdown of beneficial enzymes and nutrients that is thought to happen with centrifugal juicers.

Purpose of Juicing

Juicing is generally used for two different purposes:

  • For cleansing or detox: Solid food is eliminated and only juice is consumed as a way to cleanse your body of toxins. Juice cleanses range from 3 days to several weeks in length.
  • To supplement a normal diet: Fresh juice can be used as a handy supplement to your daily diet, increasing nutrient intake from fruits and vegetables that you wouldn’t otherwise consume.

Bottom Line: Juicing involves extracting and drinking the juice from fresh fruit and vegetables. Some people do this to “detox,” while others do it to supplement their current diet.

Juice is an Easy Way to Get Lots of Nutrients

Fresh Produce With Juicer

Many people don’t get enough nutrients from their diet alone.

Nutrient levels in the foods we eat are also much lower than they used to be.

This is largely due to processing methods and the long time it takes to get produce from the field to the supermarket.

Polluted environments and high stress levels can also increase our requirements for certain nutrients.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant compounds that may protect against disease.

If you find it difficult to get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day, juicing can be a convenient way to increase your intake.

One study found that supplementing mixed fruit and vegetable juice over 14 weeks improved participants’ nutrient levels for beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and folate.

A review of 22 studies found that drinking juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables or blended powder concentrate improved folate and antioxidant levels, including beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Bottom Line: If you struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables each day, juicing is a convenient way to get a wide range of important nutrients.

Whole Produce Protects Against Disease, But Studies on Juice are Disappointing

There’s plenty of evidence linking whole fruits and vegetables to reduced risk of disease, but studies for fruit and vegetable juices are harder to find.

One review reported that the health benefits of fruits and vegetables may be due to antioxidants, rather than fiber. If this is true, then juice may provide comparable health benefits to whole produce.

However, there is only weak evidence that pure fruit and vegetable juices can help fight cancer. There is a lack of human data and other findings are inconsistent.

Nonetheless, other areas of health show more promise. For example, juices may reduce the risk of heart disease. Apple and pomegranate juices have been linked to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Additionally, consuming fruit and vegetable juices in liquid form or blended concentrations may reduce homocysteine (an amino acid) levels and markers of oxidative stress, both of which are linked to improved heart health.

One large study found that the risk for Alzheimer’s disease was reduced among those who drank fruit and vegetable juices three or more times per week, compared with those who drank juices less than once per week.

The reduction in Alzheimer’s risk may be due to the high levels of polyphenols (plant chemicals)  in the juices. These are antioxidants found in plant foods, believed to protect brain cells.

Despite these results, more studies are needed to better understand the health effects of fruit and vegetable juices.

Bottom Line: Limited evidence is available to link fruit and vegetable juice to a reduced risk of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Apples

Fruits and Veggies Are Best Consumed Whole

Juicing advocates often claim that drinking juice is better than eating whole fruits and vegetables.

They justify this by saying that removing the fiber makes nutrients easier to absorb.

However, there isn’t any scientific research to support this.

You may actually need the fiber content of the fruit or vegetable to experience the plant’s full health benefits.

For example, important antioxidants that are naturally bound to plant fibers are lost in the juicing process. These may play an important role in the health benefits of whole fruits and vegetables.

In fact, up to 90% of fiber is removed during the juicing process, depending on the juicer. Some soluble fiber will remain, but the majority of insoluble fiber is removed.

Potential Health Benefits of Fiber

Higher fiber intakes have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies have shown that increasing soluble fiber, in particular, may improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

One study compared whole apples to apple juice. It found that drinking clear apple juice increased LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels by 6.9%, compared to whole apples. This effect is thought to be due to the fiber content of whole apples.

An observational study showed an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who consumed fruit juices, whereas whole fruits were linked to a reduced risk.

People also tend to feel more full when they eat whole fruits, compared to when they drink the juice equivalent.

One study compared the effects of blending and juicing on the nutrient content of grapefruits. Results showed that blending, which retains more fiber, is a better technique for obtaining higher levels of beneficial plant compounds.

Should you add fiber to your juices?

The level of fiber in your juices will depend on what type of juicer you use, but some sources suggest adding leftover pulp to other foods or drinks to increase fiber intake.

Although this is better than throwing the fiber away, evidence suggests that re-adding fiber to juice doesn’t give you the same health benefits as simply eating whole fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, a study found that adding naturally occurring levels of fiber to juice did not enhance feelings of fullness.

Bottom Line: Eating whole fruit and vegetables is better for your health. Juicing makes you miss out on beneficial fiber and antioxidants.

Juicing For Weight Loss May be a Bad Idea

Many people use juicing as a way to lose weight.

Most juice “diets” involve consuming around 600–1,000 calories per day from juices only, resulting in a severe calorie deficit and fast weight loss.

However, this is very difficult to sustain for more than a few days.

While juice diets may help you lose weight in the short-term, such a severe calorie restriction can slow your metabolism in the long-term.

This is also likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long-term, since juices lack many important nutrients.

Bottom Line: Most juicing diets involve severe calorie restriction, which is generally unsustainable in the long-term and can lead to a reduction in the amount of calories you burn.

Juices Should Not Replace Meals

Using juices as a meal replacement can be bad for your body.

This is because juice on its own is not nutritionally balanced, since it does not contain sufficient protein or fat.

Consuming enough protein throughout the day is necessary for muscle maintenance and long-term health.

Additionally, healthy fats are important for sustained energy, hormone balance and cell membranes. They may also provide the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

However, replacing one meal a day with juice is unlikely to cause harm, as long as the rest of your diet is more balanced.

You can make your juice more balanced by adding protein and good fats. Some good sources are whey protein, almond milk, avocados, Greek yogurt and peanut butter.

Bottom Line: Juices are nutritionally unbalanced because they do not contain adequate protein or fat. Adding protein and fat sources to your juices can help with this.

Fresh Kale

Juice Cleanses Are Not Necessary, and May be Harmful

Consuming 100% fruit juice has been associated with an increased risk of  metabolic syndrome, liver damage and obesity.

In addition, there is no evidence that your body needs to be detoxified by eliminating solid food.

Your body is designed to remove toxins on its own, using the liver and kidneys.

Furthermore, if you’re juicing with non-organic vegetables, you can end up consuming other toxins that come along with them, such as pesticides.

For individuals with kidney problems, a heavy consumption of juices rich in oxalate (oxalic acid found in foods like spinach, nuts, teas) has been linked to kidney failure.

More extreme juice cleanses are associated with negative side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.

If you take prescription medication, you should be aware of potential drug-nutrient interactions.

For example, large amounts of vitamin K found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach can interfere with blood thinners.

Bottom Line: There is no evidence that juice cleanses are necessary for detoxifying the body. Juicing may harm people who have kidney problems or take certain medications.

Fruit Juice Contains High Amounts of Sugar

Pomegranate Juice and Arils

What you put in your juice can also make a big difference, and fruits contain much more sugar and calories than vegetables.

Consuming too much fructose, one of the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, has been linked to high blood sugar, weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

About 3.9 oz (114 ml) of 100% apple juice contains zero grams of fiber, but packs 13 grams of sugar and 60 calories.

Similarly, 100% grape juice has 20 grams of sugar in a serving of 3.9 oz (114 ml).

To keep the sugar content of your juices low, you can juice the vegetables and then add a small piece of fruit if you want more sweetness.

Bottom Line: Juices based mainly on fruit are much higher in sugar and calories compared to vegetable-based juices.

Take Home Message

Fresh juices contain important vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health.

However, fruits and vegetables are still the healthiest and most nutritious when consumed whole.

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This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of effective natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based sleep aid Sleep Minerals II.

Article Source: https://authoritynutrition.com/juicing-good-or-bad/

The Top High Fiber Foods and Studies on its Health Benefits

high fiber foods
Eating a high fiber diet is highly encouraged  by nutritionists and doctors, but what exactly is fiber and what are its benefits? Fiber or roughage is derived from the cell walls of plant foods. It cannot be digested or absorbed by the body.

Because fiber passes through the body undigested, it helps to keep the intestines clean, detoxifies the body and keeps the organs healthy.

Fiber foods like split peas, avocados, beans, oats, carrots, whole grains and nuts are good sources. Studies are showing health benefits for cholesterol, blood sugar, weight loss, digestive health and brain health.

Weight loss and fiber rich foods go together well. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts set out to show that simply eating more high fiber foods each day can be more effective than restricting foods in order to lose weight.

The participants were split into two groups — one that followed the eating plan suggested by the American Heart Association (including limiting calories, increasing fiber, and balancing fats, carbohydrates and proteins) and the other group which increased their fiber intake by 30 grams per day and changed nothing else.

The group that increased their fiber lost almost as much weight as the other group, with a simpler diet that’s easier to follow. The chart below provides some excellent examples of how to easily increase fiber in your diet.

According to WebMD, the fiber found in whole grains such as brown rice, nuts and vegetables are “Nature’s Laxatives”. For digestive and colon health, studies have shown that increasing dietary fiber can reduce the risk of colon cancer. Fiber acts to speed up the travel of food through the intestines and reduces the time that any toxic waste is in the body.

One research study published in an American health journal examined the relationship between a high-vegetable, high-fruit, low-fat diet and the occurrence of colon cancer. It found that the better the participants followed the high fiber plan, the lower their risk. In fact, the “super followers” had a thirty-five percent reduction in odds of the occurrence of colon cancer over the seven year trial.

Fiber can be a healthy component of brain health. One study on brain health was reported in the journal “Stroke”. A stroke is something that can occur if there is reduced oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain. Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed seven studies having to do with fiber-rich diets and the effect on brain health. They discovered that for every seven grams more fiber a person eats each day, their first time risk of stroke goes down seven percent.

Seven grams of fiber can be found in three servings of fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables or fruits, and the study suggests that even just switching from white bread or pasta to whole grain versions of these can be of benefit.

Today is a great day to start adding as many high fiber foods as possible to each meal, for their delicious and healthful benefits.

This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a provider of nutrition articles and effective natural remedies since 2001. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes the original calcium and magnesium based natural sleep aid Sleep Minerals II, as well as Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails, and more energy.

Fiber foods This health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs

5 Big Reasons to Eat Leafy Greens – Studies Show Health Benefits

Article provided courtesy of The Life Extension Foundation

Seeing green? It’s not pure coincidence. People are finally catching on to the health benefits of leafy greens and many are including them in their everyday diet. And it’s not all that surprising.

Greens are a great source of antioxidants (natural cell protectors), fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Plus, they’re also low in calories and carbs, making them an ideal food for those of us who are watching our waistlines.

Not feeling the green movement yet? Read on. Maybe this will finally sway you!

What Are Leafy Greens?

First, let’s clarify what we mean by leafy greens. They include (but are not limited to) spinach, watercress, bok choy, collard greens, chard, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, arugula, and the very popular kale.

Easy enough? Now let’s move on to their health benefits.

Leafy Greens May Prevent Diabetes

A British study revealed people who ate about one and a half servings of leafy greens a week were 14% less likely to develop diabetes.1

In this review, scientists investigated the intake of fruit and vegetables on the incidence of type 2 diabetes. In the analysis, leafy greens beat out other fruits and vegetables.

Leafy greens are great sources of magnesium and vitamin K, nutrients with anti-diabetic effects.

Leafy Greens Protect DNA

Exercise is great for your body, but there is a downside: The production of free radicals that can damage your DNA (the material in your cells that contains the genes). It turns out leafy greens may help with this too.

(A note from Nutrition Breakthroughs: free radicals are damaging molecules that come from a reaction of oxygen inside the body.  They come from pollution, smoke, medications, chemicals, a poor diet, and also as a byproduct of normal digestion, exercise and metabolism.

“Anti-oxidants (or anti oxygen substances) such as vitamins and healthy plant nutrients, can help to defend the body against free radical damage and repair it).

In a study, participants given watercress before workouts and for an extended period of time had less evidence of DNA damage compared to a control period.2

Leafy Greens May Prevent Chronic Disease and Heart Disease

The Nurses’ Health Study is one of the most important studies to date. It has examined the health habits of people over the years and has provided us with important health information.

In one analysis that included over 100,000 people, the intake of green leafy vegetables was associated with a lower risk of major chronic disease and cardiovascular disease over a 14-year period.3

The association was stronger for leafy greens than for other groups of fruits or vegetables.

Leafy Greens Protect your Vision

Of the many beneficial compounds in leafy greens, two are of particular importance to your eyes: lutein and zeaxanthin. They play a critical role in preventing macular degeneration, the most common cause of age-related blindness.4

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found naturally in your eyes. They act like natural “sunscreen,” filtering out harmful UV light, and act as antioxidants.

Lutein and zeaxanthin can also be found in dietary supplements.

This natural health news is shared by Nutrition Breakthroughs, a publisher of nutrition articles and supplier of natural remedies since 2002. Nutrition Breakthroughs makes Sleep Minerals II, the effective natural sleep aid with calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D, and also Joints and More, the natural solution for joint relief, arthritis, aches and pains, stronger hair and nails and more energy.

References:

  1. BMJ 2010 Aug 18;341:c4229.
  2. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jan 28;109(2):293-301.
  3. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004 Nov 3;96(21):1577-84.
  4. J Ophthalmol. 2014;2014:901686. Epub 2014 Jan 23.Article provided courtesy of LEF.org (The Life Extension Foundation): 5 Big Reasons to Eat Leafy Greens.