BY DONNA WESTFALL

 

 

Halloween is over.  The amount of pumpkins purchased for Halloween can now be turned into delicious meals.  We have two pumpkins that did not get carved up for trick-or-treaters.  Out came the steamer.  Pumpkins got sliced up and steamed.  Pumpkin seeds got separated, washed, dried; then a quick roast at 400 degrees in the oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Once out of the oven, smack some butter in a hot pan and season with Spike or a little salt.  Throw those pumpkin seeds into the pan for a few minutes.  Some will pop up. Take them out, let them cool and start cracking.  Some people like eating the entire seed, outer shell and all.  I prefer to crack them open and just eat the inner part.

Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can help prevent a number of different conditions and chronic diseases.   Keep in mind that they are fatty, so a little is good and a lot can pack on weight.  However, the seeds have been known to help prevent kidney stones, reduce your chances of osteoporosis, lower your cholesterol, reduce inflammation and improve the functioning of your bladder.

The high zinc content helps protect from developing osteoporosis.  The high amount of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help improve cholesterol levels and lower inflammation.  The phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds can help reduce your risk of cancer and contribute to lower levels of cholesterol.  Phytosterols may inhibit lung, stomach, ovarian and breast cancers.  Trying to put phytosterols into laymen’s terms is not that easy. The debate regarding sterol vs. stanol is something you should investigate on your own.  Here’s a brief explanation.

Sterols, also known as steroid alcohols, are a subgroup of the steroids and an important class of organic molecules. They occur naturally in plants,  Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Almost everyone has eaten cholesterol-lowering foods like walnuts, salmon, and oatmeal.  Adding pumpkin seeds to your fall diet will, on a molecular level, prevent real cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Instead of clogging up your arteries, the cholesterol just goes out with the waste.

 

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