Pumpkins are synonymous with fall, whether as a colorful decoration or for the delicious breads and pies that will inevitably tempt taste buds and grace holiday tables. But when you scoop out that colorful squash to get to the pulp to make those tasty treats, don’t toss the seeds as they are loaded with the building blocks of what could be a crunchy and tasty tool for a healthy heart.
The seeds are an easy to prepare snack packed with powerful antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus and more. According to Chris Kozmor, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Shore Medical Center, maintaining a balanced lifestyle that includes grains, fruits and vegetables that deliver all those important nutrients to the body is key to overall wellness.
Magnesium, an element and mineral found throughout nature and one of the body’s electrolytes is packed in those tiny pumpkin seeds. In the body, magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and is absolutely crucial to many aspects of health.
Kozmor explained that the blood vessel walls throughout the body react to stressors in our daily lives and can result in negative consequences like high blood pressure with links to Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit disorder, and migraines. Keeping a healthy balance rich in magnesium, potassium and other nutrients that we can get from the food we eat is a matter of maintaining the course of moderation. “Keeping that balance in what we eat and the amount of exercise we get has a direct connection to our overall health,” Kozmor said.
Millions are effected by high blood pressure annually. Increased blood pressure forces your heart to work harder, which can put a real strain on the heart muscle and eventually lead to heart disease. Eating foods rich in magnesium may help to keep blood pressure in check and promote better heart health. Kozmor said that unfortunately more than 75 percent of Americans fall below the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
The SMC Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation said the best way for everyone to get a handle on their health numbers is to be mindful and schedule an annual physical and follow the physicians’ recommendations and get blood work done.
Roasting the pumpkin seeds is the easy way to make this tiny seed a powerful and tasty treat. Rinse the seeds to remove all pulp and strings. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet that has been coated with a non-stick coating. Sprinkle lightly with salt or seasoning sale and bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally during cooking.
According to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics one ounce of that little nutty snack is loaded with 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of fat. A one ounce serving of pumpkin seeds has 150 calories.
For additional information on cardiac rehabilitation at the Shore Center for Outpatient Rehabilitation, relocated to 710 Centre St. in Somers Point call 609-653-4677 or click here.