To me, the pumpkin is more than just an oversized vegetable. In fact, it has a very long history-once considered a symbol of the whole world, a container of everything ever created. Early societies saw symbolism and spiritual significance in many round objects, from rocks to seeds and, yes, the pumpkin. If you look at the pumpkin you know it mean business: it's big, it's round, it's heavy and it's food, usually a lot of it. It's the whole world in a neat little package, so what else can it mean? Just that: the world. And that is exactly what it meant in the Old World. As the largest fruit of creation and full of seeds, it became a symbol of plenty. Pumpkins, together with corn (maize) and beans were an important foodstuff in the early Americas. The cultivation of pumpkins spread throughout the world when the European explorers, returning from their journeys, brought back many of the agricultural treasures of the New World. Pumpkins, and their seeds, were celebrated for a long time, both for their dietary and medicinal properties.
But things have changed a little bit with this famous Cucurbit as its means as an important food source has declined and has fallen to the holidays merely for its ability to be a rather yummy pie and the traditional face of Halloween. And as we excitedly scoop out the endless supply of pumpkin seeds from our pumpkin patch pumpkins, we have lost sight of the value of these mere seeds. Maybe they're saved, maybe not. If lucky, they get salted and roasted and devoured. Maybe they get glued on to craft time projects or strung into kiddy necklaces. But, these seeds shouldn't be forgotten as they are one of Natures almost perfect foods and truly deserve a place in the everyday diet and medicine cabinet.
Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, contain a wide range of traditional nutrients. Our food ranking
system qualified them as a very good source of the minerals magnesium,
manganese and phosphorus, and a good source of iron, copper, protein
and zinc. Snack on a quarter-cup of pumpkin seeds and you will receive
the daily value for magnesium, 28.7% of the DV for iron, 52.0% of the
DV for manganese, 24.0% of the DV for copper, 16.9% of the DV for
protein, and 17.1% of the DV for zinc.
In addition to their above-listed health benefits, pumpkin seeds have been associated with Prostatitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoporosis, kidney/bladder disorders, elevated blood lipids and cholesterol, help with depression, learning disabilities, and elimination of parasites from the body.
Pumpkin seeds also make a nutritious culinary oil as well as a highly nourishing and lubricating oil that is
useful for all skin types. It is especially good if used to combat fine
lines and superficial dryness and to prevent moisture loss.
Not bad for a seed.
As it is the time of year where most of us will be scooping seeds of plenty from our Jack-O-Lanterns, don't forget to save those seeds as they are so important to our history and health.
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Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.