As is typical for the season, the warm summer months seemed to have flown by in the blink of eye. But the upside is that now we get to enjoy fall, which means cooler weather, colorful landscapes and autumn's fun-filled festivities including Halloween and Thanksgiving Day.
You've probably noticed retailers are already lining their shelves with fall decorations, regardless of whether or not consumers feel ready to say goodbye to summer. One decoration, in particular, that has a tendency to trick our minds into accepting the new season is pumpkins.
Simply laying our eyes on the round, orange fruit prepares and excites us for the fall season. Fortunately, pumpkins aren't limited to decor as they offer a multitude of health benefits, including their ability to combat chronic disease, which affects 40 percent of the United States.
Pumpkin seeds are packed full of nutrient-rich minerals
Did you know that pumpkin seeds contain many essential minerals? Considered a dietary powerhouse, seeds of this nutrient-rich fruit possess fiber, vitamin K, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium – all of which boost everyday health.
Consuming ample amounts of pumpkin seeds is believed to improve heart health, sleep and sperm count, as well as lower blood sugar levels and even prevent cancer.
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been linked to a decreased risk in stomach, lung, bring, prostate and colon cancers. Research shows that eating the seeds may reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Authoritynutrition.com.
Other studies show pumpkin seeds may effectively reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells. This believed due to the fact that the seeds contain protective compounds called phytosterols, which are known for their ability to help shrink the prostate.
In fact, eating pumpkin seeds to protect the prostate is an age-old tradition. Young men in many European countries often practice this preventative technique to reduce the risk of an enlarged prostate, a condition that affects more than 50 percent of American men over the age of 50.
Pumpkin seeds offer many health benefits, including the ability to combat cancer
An enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) constricts the urethra, resulting in discomfort and problems urinating. However, chemicals found in pumpkin seeds are thought to prevent testosterone from transforming into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with an enlarged prostate, according to prevention.com.
Research observing the effect pumpkin seed consumption has on BPH in more than 1,400 men discovered that after one year, the men who ate the seeds experienced reduced symptoms and an overall better quality of life.
The seeds may also help treat an overactive bladder, further research shows.
Fighting diabetes with autumn's most popular fruit
Other substances found in pumpkin seeds are also proven to help treat diabetes. The condition affects more than 9 percent of Americans, with an estimated 1.4 million new cases arising in the United States each year, according to diabetes.org.
Animal studies suggest that pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extract and pumpkin seed oil may improve insulin regulation in diabetics, as well as "prevent some unwanted consequences of diabetes on kidney function," reports Whfoods.com.
"Decrease in oxidative stress has played a key role in many studies that show benefits of pumpkin seeds for diabetic animals."
One of the best ways to prepare pumpkin seeds is to roast them, with the baking time not exceeding 20 minutes, which is the threshold for which the seeds may lose some of their nutrients.
Ideally, you should roast the seeds for about 15 to 20 minutes. For added flavor, you can sprinkle them with salt, garlic or even soy sauce.