What's green, slimy, abundant at Halloween AND good for your health? Pumpkin seed oil!
October marks pumpkin harvesting season and by now you may have seen some scary 'Jack-o'-lanterns' lurking outside homes and shops (pictured is my husband's cracking effort last year!). In some countries though, pumpkins are solely grown for the precious red-green seed oil.
Obtained from cold pressed pumpkin seeds, this amazing oil is rich in nutrients including omega-6 and omega-9, vitamin E, zinc, antioxidants and phytosterols.
Currently being touted by health experts as the new coconut oil, pumpkin seed oil isn't a trendy new superfood but has been used to improve health and well-being around the world for hundreds of years.
Want to know how pumpkin seeds have been used as medicine and how the oil can improve your health AND your looks? Read on...
History of pumpkin seed oil
It's thought that pumpkins were originally cultivated by native Americans to use as food and medicine; they used pumpkin seeds to successfully eliminate parasites and to treat kidney problems. The oil has long been used in Austria and Slovenia to enhance health and beauty, with women religiously applying it to soothe chapped skin and to prevent the signs of ageing.
Benefits of pumpkin seed oil
Anti-inflammatory - Due to its high fatty acid profile, it is considered to reduce inflammation in the body and could help conditions including arthritis and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).
Anti-parasitic - It turns out that Native Americans were correct in believing that pumpkin seeds could eliminate intestinal parasites, as cucurbitin, an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds, has demonstrated anti-parasitic properties.
Cholesterol lowering - the high content of phytosterols may contribute to lowering levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins, or 'bad' cholesterol) and increasing HDL (high density lipoproteins, or 'good' cholesterol).
Diuretic - studies show that pumpkin seed oil can improve the function of the bladder. Interestingly, it was used to prevent bed-wetting in children by native Americans as it would ensure that the children would go to sleep with an empty bladder.
Immune boosting - pumpkin seed oil is rich in the mineral zinc, which is known to improve the body's defences.
Prostate health - research has demonstrated that pumpkin seed oil is effective in reducing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Sedative - pumpkin seed contains high levels of tryptophan, converted by the body to serotonin and then melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Skin health - fatty acids work to maintain the skin's protective barrier, in order to retain moisture and repair rough, chapped skin, whilst high levels of vitamin E may reduce the appearance of fine lines, scarring, stretch marks and redness.
3 ways to use pumpkin seed oil at home
So this year once your pumpkin is carved, instead of discarding the seeds, roast them on a low setting or lightly fry in a little coconut oil, add cinnamon, sea salt or cayenne powder and treat yourself to a healthy Halloween snack!
Complementary therapist and natural health expert. On a mission to sprinkle health and wellness wherever I go...