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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
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Sugar Is a Drug

By Dr. Oz & Dr. Roizen     June 6th, 2013 

When a person does cocaine it creates a surge of pleasure molecules in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, or decreases their inactivation. Stay with us, here. It both creates a rush of molecules and blocks their degradation—two things that boost their effects. These cause a pleasure rush in you, at least until your brain receptors get used to it. Many get addicted to this rush and seek out the drug whenever, wherever they can. You would then seek more to overcome your brain receptors getting to use to the rush. Cocaine is not the only substance that does this. And, no, we’re not talking about other hard drugs. We’re talking about something you’ve probably put into your body already today: simple sugars and their equivalent, simple or added syrups.

Eating sugar makes you feel good by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine in your brain and the reduction in their degradation. But when it wears off, you crash and may go on the hunt for another sweet fix—your brain’s receptors demand more. Sound familiar? 

Not everyone has an insatiable sweet tooth, and scientists are studying animal models to determine what makes some people more susceptible to sugar addiction. They believe that a tendency toward getting hooked on the sweet stuff could help explain why obesity is on the rise worldwide. With snack cakes, candy bars, sodas and cookies constantly at our fingertips, we can all benefit from being aware of the slippery high-fructose-corn-syrup-slicked slope.


Here are three ways to monitor and control your sugar intake:

1. Avoid Processed (White) Sugars
Simple sugars, like the ones in cake, packaged foods, white bread and soda, are taken up very quickly in your body. Cue sugar high, sugar crash and cravings for more sugar. Not only do they perpetuate the cycle of gotta have it, they also do direct damage to the proteins that serve as grout between the cells lining your arteries, lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, and accelerate the wrinkling and sagging of aging skin.

2. Try Different Desserts
We’re a society programmed to end our meals with something sweet. Try to break the dessert habit by trying something other than a pie or a bowl of ice cream. Why not do what many Europeans do and have salad as the last thing you eat, or cap off dinner with an ounce of walnuts covered with blackberries? Revel in the natural sweetness of strawberries, or treat a glass of wine as your dessert.

3. Pay More Attention to Your Food
One key to cutting back on sugar is being aware of how much sugar you eat in the first place. Check the nutrition facts on foods you enjoy every day; you might be surprised how much added sugar is lurking in seemingly healthy foods, such as nonfat fruit yogurt and barbeque sauce. (We wrote about eight common culprits in a recent column. Read it here.) Never snack right out of the bag or box, because that makes it nearly impossible to track how much you’ve eaten. Portion out one serving into a small bowl, then put the package away. Not only will you eat less, you’ll also appreciate and enjoy it more.


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10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day

BY MARCUS JULIAN FELICETTI   AUGUST 10, 2012 

Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing. Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.

Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in these ways:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.


6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1+1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”