Pepitas, are also known as pumpkin seeds, and have been valued across many cultures for their health benefits and have even been used as a folk remedy for various ailments. But pepitas and pumpkin seeds are not the same thing. They are closely related, but pumpkin seeds are whole seeds with the shell still on that must be cooked before eating, while pepitas are shell-less, from the hull-less pumpkin variety and can be eaten raw. All pepitas are a type of pumpkin seed, but not all pumpkin seeds are pepitas.
Modern science now confirms that these small green seeds do pack a punch when it comes to nutrition and health benefits even helping you to sleep better.
1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Pepitas are loaded with antioxidants that protect our cells from damage and reduce inflammation in our bodies. This effect is enhanced by their dietary fibre content. Studies have shown that pepitas’ anti-inflammatory properties can benefit the liver, bladder, bowel, and joints, keeping them in good shape.
2. Lower Risk of Diabetes: Pepitas are rich in magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, including pumpkin seeds in your diet can aid in maintaining better blood sugar control.
3. Healthy Heart Function: Magnesium in pumpkin seeds is not only good for diabetes but also helps lower and regulate blood pressure. A diet rich in magnesium is associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. Additionally, the antioxidants in pumpkin seeds boost nitric oxide levels, promoting smooth and healthy blood vessels.
4. Sleep Better: Snacking on pepita seeds before bedtime may improve your sleep quality, as they are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that is well known to promote sleep. The zinc, copper, and selenium in pepitas can also positively influence sleep duration and quality. Moreover, the magnesium in these seeds can help reduce stress and anxiety, that generally contributes to better sleep.
Pepitas are packed with essential nutrients that support your overall well-being. They contain vitamins and minerals like manganese, vitamin K, and zinc, which aid in wound healing and boost the immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.
A quarter-cup serving of pepita seeds provides
- Calories: 180
- Protein: 10 grams
- Fat: 16 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
While pepitas are a nutritional powerhouse, it’s essential to watch your portion sizes due to their higher calorie content. A recommended serving size is about one-quarter cup. The good news is that the high fibre content helps regulate blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller, reducing the urge to overeat.
How to Use Pepita Seeds
Incorporating pepitas into your diet is easy and fun! You can find them raw, sprouted, or roasted, with or without their shells, in grocery stores. If you want a more authentic experience, you can scoop them straight from a fresh hull-less Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkin, characterized by their smooth rind with dark green and yellow-to-gold striping. Keep an eye out for pre-packaged products with added ingredients like salt that may reduce their nutritional value.
7 Great Ways to Enjoy Pepitas
- Smoothies: Adding pepitas to your smoothie, gives an extra dose of nutrition and a fun crunch.
- Add some to your Yogurt, or Cereal: Pepitas are a fantastic addition to your breakfast or snacks, adding a wholesome twist.
- Sprinkle on Salads: Add a little crunch to your salads with a sprinkle of pepita seeds, a bit more nutritional value is always a boost.
- Add to your Meal: Whether it’s soups, casseroles or pasta, pepitas make a great addition.
- Blended into Dips: Pepitas can be blended with other ingredients to up the nutritional value of dips like hummus, pesto, or guacamole.
- Baked treats: By adding pepitas to your cookies, cakes, and bread recipes, you get an extra healthy boost.
- Toasted or Roasted Snacks: Pepitas by themselves with a little of your favorite spices or seasoning like soy and chilli, make a really delicious snack for guests when just enjoying a drink or two!
Pepitas are not just a tasty treat but also a treasure trove of nutrition with an array of health benefits. With their diverse culinary uses, incorporating these seeds into your diet can do wonders for your overall well-being. Experiment, enjoy the goodness of pepitas and take a step towards a healthier lifestyle!