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Pumpkins, Natures Multi-Vitamin
  The Elevate Me Team 12:43 PM

Halloween is the one day of the year when it’s acceptable to eat unhealthy stuff. Okay, Valentine’s day as well. And Easter. Oh, and Christmas and your birthday. I’m sure there are other days where you can justify it as well.


Image courtesy of Apolonia at Freedigitalphotos.net

But the great thing about Halloween is that there is an antidote for all the junk food. And it’s sitting right outside your front door. It’s the pumpkin.

Instead of throwing out the pumpkin, consider drying out the seeds or making something with it. Because that jack o’ lantern has some great things going for it. Here’s a list:

First of all, it’s easy to digest. The flesh of a pumpkin is used to make pies (yum yum!) and soups.  Pumpkin is a type of squash, and remember that squash is one of the first foods introduced to babies because it’s so easy to digest.

Pumpkin seeds support the immune system … and men’s sex drive! The seeds are a great vegetarian source of zinc, a critical nutrient for the immune system. A zinc deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among other things.  Zinc also protects the prostate and stimulates sex drive by ensuring healthy testosterone levels. Remember that men lose 1.5 percent of their testosterone per year after the age of 30. So I guess you could say pumpkin seeds are nature’s Viagra J.

Seeds are great for your heart health. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of phytosterols (or plant sterols) and can reduce your blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease. Also, one-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body),  the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function. Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke, yet an estimated 80 percent of North Americans are deficient in this important mineral. And there’s more! One cup of cooked pumpkin contains 146 percent of the daily-recommended intake of beta carotene, which protects cholesterol from oxidation. Beta carotene (aka pro-vitamin A) is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient.

Pumpkin seeds can help you sleep. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a small piece of fruit, may be beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night’s sleep.

So, don’t throw out the pumpkin. Balance that Halloween candy with a healthy dose of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.

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