Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

10+ Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati    October 9, 2013
  
October, November and December are all prime pumpkin months in the U.S. and soon enough, people will be carving up pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, homemade pies and pumpkin bakes! But before you prepare your pumpkin as a decoration, dessert or dinner, remember to save your seeds. If you simply scoop out and compost your pumpkin/squash seeds you could be throwing out a heap of great nutrients and their inherent plant-based health benefits.

Vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients in pumpkin seeds*:

–   Manganese
–   Tryptophan
–   Magnesium
–   Phosphorus
–   Copper
–   Zinc
–   Iron

* Pumpkin seeds are either an excellent or very good source of all of these nutrients and vitamins. There are many other nutrients, minerals and vitamins present in pumpkin seeds that are not listed here.

 

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds:

Tryptophan: Helps fight depression (converted into serotonin and niacin).

Glutamate (needed to create GABA): Anti-stress neurochemical, helps relieve anxiety and other related conditions.

Zinc: Boosts immune function and fights osteoporosis.

Phytosterols: Reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and raise HDL (the good kind). May also be effective in the prevention of cancer.


Rich in Antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds have a diverse range of antioxidants in them. These include, but are not limited to:

-Vitamins: Pumpkin seeds contain E in a variety of forms: Alpha-tocomonoenol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol and gamma-tocomonoenol. Having so many forms of Vitamin E in one food is beneficial because some of the forms of Vitamin E are more bioavailable than others.

– Minerals: Pumpkin seeds also contain mineral antioxidants like zinc and manganese.

– Phenolic antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds include phenolic antioxidants like the following acids: hydroxybenzoic, ferulic, protocatechuic, caffeic, coumaric, sinapic, vanillic, and syringic acid.

– Other antioxidant phytonutrients: Pumpkin seeds contain beneficial lignans including: lignans pinoresinol, lariciresinol and medioresinol.

Antimicrobial Properties: According to whfoods.com, “Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties.”

Diabetes Support: Preliminary studies have suggested that ground pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil may improve insulin regulation and help protect the kidneys of those with diabetes.

Cancer Prevention: Because of pumpkin seeds’ rich antioxidant profile (and thus their potential to reduce oxidative stress) they may help decrease our risk of cancer. Preliminary studies have focused specifically on the lignans in pumpkin seeds, and their potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.


Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): Pumpkin seed extracts and oils are used in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) (A non-cancer enlargement of the prostate gland). U.S. Studies have shown a beneficial link between nutrients in pumpkin seeds (pumpkin seed oil extract), and treating BPH. These nutrients include phytosterols, lignans, and zinc, among others.

Protein: Along with all the beneficial phytonutrients and antioxidants in pumpkin seeds, they are also a rich source of protein! One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein.

How to use pumpkin seeds:

–   With any nut or seed a little goes a long way (remember it contains the building blocks to create a whole new plant!)
–   Enjoy the whole kernels on their own, raw or lightly roasted. (This way you get the complete package of nutrients.)
–   Sprinkle some seeds on top of your cereal or granola in the morning.
–   Enjoy them with your evening salad.
–   Throw shelled seeds into a smoothie (as long as you have a good blender.)
–   Take a small handful of pumpkin seeds mixed with some dried fruit along for a hike.
–   Sprinkle on top of your homemade bread (or mix it into the dough) before baking.

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin seeds, so experiment and enjoy!

Sources:   whfoods   Huffington Post   Wikipedia
Advertisements


Leave a comment

The 5 Most Prominent Minerals In The Body and Their Use

by Fiora Stevens on August 5, 2013

Health conscious people often talk about getting enough vitamins and minerals, but do you know which minerals your body requires in the greatest amounts? And do you know what they do, and how they keep your body working in tip top shape? Let’s take a look at the five most prominent minerals in the human body, and how they lend themselves to health and proper function.

1. Calcium
If you see calcium and think “strong bones,” you’re certainly on the right track – but that’s not all calcium does! In addition to helping build and maintain the strength and structure of bones and teeth, calcium also plays a significant role in blood clotting, sending signals in the nervous system, regulating blood pressure, hormone secretion, and enzyme function.

Calcium also works with countless other vitamins and minerals to ensure that they can do their jobs to the fullest effect. Plus, calcium helps the body to excrete any lead that it takes in, aiding in the avoidance of lead poisoning.

2. Sodium
Often, not taking in too much sodium is the focus of many healthy eating plans. But although too much sodium can be harmful, this mineral is very much a necessity for the human body. One of the most important uses of sodium is to ensure that the body’s fluid balance stays in check, and that each individual cell has just the right amount of fluid inside it to function properly. Sodium is also a key factor in sending signals from one nerve to another, as well as helping muscles to contract and release.

3. Chloride
Chloride is absolutely crucial to the human body, yet, it’s not a mineral we hear much about. Acting in concert with sodium, chloride is a key factor in preserving fluid balance throughout the body and helping fluids to move in and out of cells and tissues. Chloride is also incredibly important in ensuring that the body’s pH level stays within a safe range. Finally, chloride ions work to send electrical impulses down nerve pathways.

 


4. Potassium
Like sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte that regulates the body’s fluid levels, as well as the transportation of those fluids. And like sodium and chloride, potassium plays a major role in nerve signal transmission due to its electrical charge.
The contraction, flexing, and releasing of muscles is also reliant on potassium working in tandem with sodium. In addition, potassium can help prevent kidney stones, and levels of potassium that are too low have been tied to high blood pressure.

5. Phosphorus
This all-important mineral is found in every single cell. Phosphorus is a key component of the underlying structure of DNA, and also helps form the cell membranes that control what can and cannot enter an individual cell. Like calcium, phosphorus lends its strength to teeth and bones. Phosphorus also helps individual cells to convert food into energy, and is also a major player in the systems that maintain a balanced pH within the body.

Sources:
http://web.mit.edu/athletics/sportsmedicine/wcrminerals.html
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/minerals-and-their-functions-and-sources
http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary=chlorideion
http://www.mayoclinic.org/mcitems/mc5100-mc5199/mc5129-0709-sp-rpt.pdf


Leave a comment

Blackstrap Molasses Health Benefits

By Sarabeth Asaff

Blackstrap molasses is the byproduct of the sugar refining process. It is produced from the third boiling of the sugar, and is therefore thicker and more nutrient rich than molasses made from the first or second boiling. Blackstrap molasses has a bittersweet taste, reminiscent of gingerbread, and contains many health benefits as well.

Four Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners that are actually good for you. Unlike refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, blackstrap contains several important nutrients.

Minerals to Boost Energy
In addition to being a simple carbohydrate, which can be quickly converted to energy, blackstrap molasses also contains high levels of iron, manganese and copper, all of which can translate into an energy boost for those with low iron levels. Menstruating and lactating women in particular are at danger of having lower levels of iron, which can lead to fatigue. Blackstrap molasses is one way to help correct an iron deficiency.

Calcium for Strong Bones
If you have trouble taking in enough servings of dairy to help provide you with enough calcium, blackstrap molasses can be a helpful addition to your diet. Just two teaspoons of blackstrap will give you nearly 12 percent of your daily need for calcium, as well as some magnesium, which is needed to help absorb the calcium properly.

Improved Sleep
Blackstrap molasses contains several nutrients that are linked to better sleep, such as calcium, magnesium and B-6. It also has a high glucose count, which has been tied to higher tryptophan levels; the natural chemical that makes you feel tired. A high glucose, rather than sucrose, count may also help to boost serotonin levels in the brain, leading to better sleep.


Gray Hair Reversal
While there is no scientific research to back this up, many people take one to two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses everyday as a cure for gray hair. The theory is that the high copper levels in the molasses help to stimulate melanin production and re-pigment the hair. Success has been reported in as little as two to three weeks after beginning the regimen.

Supplementing With Blackstrap Molasses

The amount of blackstrap molasses you will need to take each day will be directly impacted by the results you want to get. Take the molasses in the following quantities to get the desired results:

  • As an iron supplement: Take one tablespoon daily
  • As a calcium supplement: Take two teaspoons daily
  • To help improve sleep: Take one to two tablespoons nightly
  • To help reverse gray hair: Take one to two tablespoons daily

Cautions to Consider

While blackstrap molasses does contain more minerals than ordinary table sugar, it is still a high-calorie simple sugar, which can produce a blood sugar spike. Like all sugars, it should be used in moderation, in conjunction with a healthy diet.

When purchasing blackstrap molasses, be sure to look for products that are made of 100 percent molasses, with no added corn syrup or fillers. Whenever possible, look for blackstrap molasses that is unsulfured, rather than molasses made with sulfur. Sulfur is used to ripen green sugarcanes, and the excess can be found in molasses made from green sugarcanes. Look for unsulfured molasses whenever possible to avoid potential health concerns from ingesting sulfur.

Add Blackstrap Molasses to a Healthy Diet

Using blackstrap molasses in place of ordinary sugar can be a natural way to help increase your intake of vitamins and minerals on an everyday basis. If you suspect that you suffer from anemia or another health condition, make sure you speak to your doctor before beginning a regiment of blackstrap molasses. Add blackstrap molasses to your normal healthy diet to see what benefits it may bring to you.


Leave a comment

Pumpkin Seeds

Health benefits of pumpkin seeds

Crunchy, delicious pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 559 calories per 100 g. In addition; they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health promoting antioxidants.

Their high caloric content mainly comes from protein and fats. On the positive side, the nuts are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid (18:1) that helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is liberal in monounsaturated fatty acids help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

The seeds contain good-quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g or 54% of recommended daily allowance. In addition, the seeds are an excellent source of amino acid tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial neuro-chemical often labeled as nature’s sleeping pill. Further, tryptophan is a precursor of B-complex vitamin, niacin (60 mg of tryptophan = 1mg niacin).

Glutamate is required in the synthesis of γ-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA, an anti-stress neurochemical in the brain, helps reducing anxiety, nervous irritability, and other neurotic conditions.

Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of anti-oxidant vitamin E; contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol-gamma per 100 g (about 237% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. It prevents tissue cells from the free radical mediated oxidant injury. Thus, it helps maintain the integrity of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen-free radicals.


Pumpkin kernels are an also excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for various enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism in the human body. In addition, niacin helps to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. Along with glutamate, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn reduces anxiety and neurosis.

Furthermore, its seeds contain very good levels of essential minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Just as in pine nuts, pumpkin seeds too are very rich in manganese (provide 4543 mg per 100 g, about 198% of daily-recommended intake). Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. It is therefore, consumption of pumpkin kernels helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.


Medicinal values of pumpkin seeds

Research studies suggest that pumpkin seed to have DHEA (Di hydro epi-androstenedione) blocking actions. Thus, it cuts the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers.

In addition, experimental studies suggest that certain phytochemical compounds in pumpkin seed oil may have a role in prevention of diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease).