Pumpkin Carver, Save Those Seeds!

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.
Image via Wikipedia

If you are partaking in the annual carving of pumpkins, take the time to remove your seeds and toast them lightly on an oiled pan with a little seasoning.

Are they good for you?  Yes, they help prediabetic rats avoid diabetes and contain a number of healthy compounds.  Huge quantities of the seeds are not toxic, with the only side effect of eating lots of seeds being constipation.  So chew them well, people.

In countries with a high seed intake, the seeds have been used to kill tapeworms.  Yep, the small, fine particles can make life very uncomfortable for intestinal parasites.  So take the time the eat your seeds and make sure you aren’t likely to become a haunted house of horrors.

J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):266-75.

Health benefits of traditional corn, beans, and pumpkin: in
vitro studies for hyperglycemia and hypertension management.

Kwon YI, Apostolidis E, Kim YC, Shetty K.


Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.


Levels of obesity-linked non-insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus (NIDDM) and hypertension are highest among indigenous communities in
North America. This is linked to changes in dietary pattern towards high
calorie foods such as sugar, refined grain flour, and sweetened beverages.
Therefore, a return to traditional dietary patterns may help to reduce these
disease problems because of better balance of calories and beneficial
nutrients. Further protective non-nutrient phenolic phytochemicals against
NIDDM and hypertension are potentially high in these foods but less understood.
In this study antidiabetic- and antihypertension-relevant potentials of
phenolic phytochemicals were confirmed in select important traditional plant
foods of indigenous communities such as pumpkin, beans, and maize using in
vitro enzyme assays for -glucosidase, alpha-amylase, and angiotensin
I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activities. In vitro inhibitory activities
of these enzymes provide a strong biochemical rationale for further in vivo
studies and dietary management strategy for NIDDM through the control of
glucose absorption and reduction of associated hypertension. These enzyme
inhibitory activities were further compared to total soluble phenolic content
and antioxidant activity of the above-targeted plant foods. Pumpkin showed the
best overall potential. Among the varieties of pumpkin extracts P5 (round
orange) and P6 (spotted orange green) had high content of total phenolics and
moderate antioxidant activity coupled to moderate to high alpha-glucosidase and
ACE inhibitory activities. Therefore this phenolic antioxidant-enriched dietary
strategy using specific traditional plant food combinations can generate a
whole food profile that has the potential to reduce hyperglycemia-induced
pathogenesis and also associated complications linked to cellular oxidation
stress and hypertension.

PMID: 17651062

Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2004 Oct-Dec;24(4):323-7.

[Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a
traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas].

[Article in Spanish]

Díaz Obregón D, Lloja Lozano L, Carbajal Zúñiga V.


Hospital Nacional Edgardo Rebagliati Martins (HNERM), Lima.


Experimental research was carried out at the Parasitology
and Chemistry laboratories of the Jorge Basadre Grohmann National University,
in Tacna. The process involved two phases: (1) determination of the minimum
inhibitory concentration (MIC) of Cucurbita Maxima as an antiparasitic agent
using canine tapeworms with an intestinal isolation of 5 to 6 hours, and (2)
determination of the side-effects of Curbita Maxima on exposed albino rats. It
was found that the MIC of 23 gr. of pumpkin seed in 100 ml. of distilled water
can produce an antihelminthic effect. This concentration is equivalent to +/-
73 pumpkin seeds (x2 = 5.6, p<0.01). Macroscopically, alterations in
helminthic motility are present at a dose of > 23 gr. There is a
protheolithic effect with an average survival time of 38.4 minutes.
Microscopically the mature proglottids present a destruction of the tegument
involving the basal membrane. In the gravid proglottids there is egg
destruction. These findings are accentuated when experimenting with Cucurbita
Maxima in a concentration of 30 and 32 gr. Superficial non-erosive gastritis
was found in weys rats after 4 hours of administering 9 gr/kg.

PMID: 15614300

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