From pumpkin to flax to chia, seeds are very popular and nutritious. Check out my past post about – chia, quinoa and hemp. For this Grow with Nutrition post, I’m sharing with you interesting nutrition facts and health benefits about flax and pumpkin seeds. 

Flaxseeds

I became a flaxseed eater during my undergrad days at the University of Guelph.  At the time researching flaxseed, as a functional food, was trending. It was particularly interesting to me when I discovered we grow flax in central Canada. Flaxseed, the edible portion of the linseed plant, has been used in both food and non-food industry for 1000’s of years. You can buy the seeds whole and ground. It is best to grind flaxseeds to get their full nutritional composition.

Nutrition Profile of Flaxseed

  • It is rich in both the omega 3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and lignans.
  • Lignans are chemical compounds found in plants. They have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • It is abundant in dietary insoluble and soluble fibre.
  • It has antioxidants, phytoestrogen and phenolics(1).

Health Benefits of Flax

With flaxseed being rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre, studies have shown it is beneficial for heart health and for people with diabetes (2,3). Research identified that both total cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol decline when a diet rich in flax seed was consumed, helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (3). And diets supplemented with flaxseed revealed improved glucose control with diabetic patients and blood glucose levels in health individuals (4,5).

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat, dark green seeds. When roasted, pumpkins seeds are probably best known for their role as a perennial Halloween treat. These seeds are delicious and nutritious, anytime of the year. Pumpkin seeds have been used as a traditional medicine in regions around the world including China, India and Mexico for ailments including diabetes and treatment of worms or parasites. You can buy the seeds raw and shelled, raw and unshelled, roasted and shelled, roasted and unshelled.

Nutritional Profile of Pumpkin Seeds

  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in the fat soluble vitamin E.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of the minerals manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper,  phosphorus, iron and the antioxidant beta-carotene.
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in numerous antioxidants.  This diverse mixture of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds may provide them with antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in food.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Animal studies suggest pumpkin seed oil has beneficial effects on arthritis, indicating both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions (6,7). In other animal studies, it was found that pumpkin seed proteins had antibacterial and antifungal properties (8,9).

Let’s keep going nuts for our health but leave some room for seeds
including pumpkin and flax!


Recipe

Do you need a healthy granola to pack for all the outdoor activities this summer? I found this delicious pumpkin flax seed granola from Harringtonharmonies.com. Tell me what you think of it.

References

1. Katare C, Saxena S, Agrawal S, Prasad GBKS, Bisen PS. Flax seed: a potential medicinal food. J Nutr Food Sci. 2012;2(120).
2.  Bierenbaum ML, Reichstein R, Watkins TR. Reducing atherogenic risk in hyperlipemic humans with flax seed supplementation: a preliminary report.  J Am Coll Nutr. 1993;12(5):501-4.
3.  Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Vidgen E, Agarwal S, Rao AV, Rosenberg RS, Diamandis EP, Novokmet R, Mehling CC, Perera T, Griffin LC, Cunnane SC. Health aspects of partially defatted flaxseed, including effects on serum lipids, oxidative measures, and ex vivo androgen and progestin activity: a controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(3):395-402.
4.  Pan A, et al. Effects of a flaxseed-derived lignan supplement on C-reactive protein, IL-6 and retinol-binding protein 4 in type 2 diabetic patients. Br J Nutr. 2009;101(8):1145-1149.
5.  Dahl WJ, Lockert EA, Cammer AL, Whiting SJ. Effects of flax fiber on laxation and glycemic response in healthy volunteers. J Med Food. 2005;8(4):508-511.
6.  Fahim AT, Abd-el Fattah AA, Agha AM, Gad MZ. Effect of pumpkin-seed oil on the level of free radical scavengers induced during adjuvant-arthritis in rats. Pharmacol Res. 1995;31(1): 73–79.
7.  Zuhair HA, Abd El-Fattah AA, El-Sayed MI. Pumpkin-seed oil modulates the effect of felodipine and captopril in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Pharmacol Res. 2000;41(5): 555–563.
8. Ng TB, Parkash A, Tso WW. Purification and characterization of moschins, arginine–glutamate-rich proteins with translation-inhibiting activity from brown pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) seeds. Protein Expr Purif. 2002;26: 9–13.
9. Wang HX, Ng TB. Isolation of cucurmoschin, a novel antifungal peptide abundant in arginine, glutamate and glycine residues from black pumpkin seeds. Peptides. 2003;24: 969–972.