Pumpkin seeds – rich in zinc

Pumpkin seed kernels, raw, unsalted.

Pumpkin seed kernels are a good source of protein, essential fats, fiber, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals – and a great source of zinc which may be lacking in vegetarian or vegan diets. (Pumpkin Seeds – Benefits, nutrition and dietary tips.) (Other vegetarian sources of zinc.)

Work is progressing on the development of pumpkin seed flour for use as a food thickening substance for use in gravies or other sauces or stews. It would increase the protein, essential fatty acids, and other trace nutrient content of the resulting foods. (10) The use of pumpkin seeds in the diet may also prove to be protective against cancer and liver or kidney injury; and as a good source of antioxidants such as carotenoids (vitamin A family of nutrients) the use of pumpkin seeds in the diet may prove to be helpful against many conditions that involve excess oxidative stress. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) They are also a source of vitamin E (tocopherols), other phytosterols, and linoleic acid, a beneficial polyunsaturated fat. Pumpkin seed oil may be helpful in wound healing. (15) Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of phospholipids, (16), which are important for skin and membrane health.

Pumpkins are considered a drought tolerant plant for gardeners. Adequate water is needed to grow larger pumpkin and squash but the vines can survive limited water conditions. The seeds of other summer and winter squash are also nutrient rich and also may be more drought tolerant plants. (11, 12) Enough but not too much water at the right times are critical. Flooding or severe drought may both harm the garden yield. Mulching and drip irrigation or other watering methods applied at optimal stages of growth can be the water thrifty solution for best yield. (13, 14)

The seeds of butternut squash and some types of winter squash can be collected when trimming the squash and later toasted and eaten as a crunchy nutritious snack. India grocery markets may also have shelled squash seeds available for sale. They are slightly smaller and paler in color than the shelled pumpkin kernels in the image above.

Magnesium is one of the beneficial nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. It is a mineral that is needed in greater quantity during pregnancy and high blood pressure/hypertension can be a symptom of deficiency. Preeclampsia and the more severe eclampsia are complications characterized by high blood pressure and edema/swelling that can occur during pregnancy. Toxins collect in the excess fluid buildup and can risk a brain condition similar to hypertension encephalopathy in the more severe eclampsia. Seizure activity can result and death for the woman and expected infant are risks. Magnesium is used as an intravenous or intramuscular injection to reduce risk of the seizures during eclampsia. The mineral seems to help protect the blood brain barrier and reduce swelling in the brain during eclampsia. It’s role as an antioxidant to reduce free radical toxins may be involved but the exact mechanism for its benefit in eclampsia is not known. (2, page 139)

More information about preclampsia is available in a previous post, and more information about food sources and supplement sources of magnesium is also available in a previous post.

I have several writing projects in draft mode however they overlap – pumpkin seeds, a good source of magnesium and zinc, helped my previous prenatal clients who had a history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure in a previous pregnancy prevent a reocurrence of the problem. Why? Possibly because of the magnesium and other beneficial nutrients which could be protecting the blood brain barrier and might then also be helpful for preventing harm to oligodendrocytes and protect against demyelination – a risk that can occur with some types of encephalopathy (3).

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827242/Megan Ware, What are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds?, July 24, 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303864.php
  2. Mehmet Kaya, Bulent Ahishali, Chapter 9: The role of magnesium in edema and blood brain barrier disruption, page 139, in the book edited by Robert Vink, Mihai Nechifor, Magnesium in the Central Nervous System, University of Adelaide Press, 2011, adelaide.edu.au, free ebook pdf, https://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/magnesium/magnesium-ebook.pdf  (2
  3. S. Love, Demyelinating Diseases, J Clin Pathol. 2006 Nov; 59(11): 1151–1159.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1860500/ (3)
  4. Scientific Studies collection on a commercial website by Pepo Farms, https://pepofarms.com.au/scientificstudies/ (4) which includes:
  5. M. Gossell-Williams, A. Davis, N. O’Connor, Inhibition of Testosterone-Induced Hyperplasia of the Prostate of Sprague-Dawley Rats by Pumpkin Seed Oil. Jun 2006, Vol. 9, No. 2 : 284 -286. 
  6. C. Z. Nkosi, A. R. Opoku, S. E. Terblanche, Antioxidative effects of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate in CCl4-Induced liver injury in low-protein fed rats.
  7. 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.
    In: Pharmacol Res (1995 Jan) 31(1):73-9 ISSN: 1043-6618
  8. Suphakarn VS Yarnnon C Ngunboonsri P, The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area. In: Am J Clin Nutr (1987 Jan) 45(1):115-21 ISSN: 0002-9165
  9. Matus Z Molnar P Szabo LG [Main carotenoids in pressed seeds (Cucurbitae semen) of oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo convar. pepo var. styriaca)] Olajtok (Cucurbita pepo convar. pepo var. styriaca) magjabol nyert presmaradek ossz-karotinoid-tartalmanak es karotinoid-osszetetelenek meghatarozasa. In: Acta Pharm Hung (1993 Sep) 63(5):247-56 ISSN: 0001-6659 (Published in Hungarian)  * The main carotenoids included per the Pepo Farms site: “The main components of the press-residue were lutein [3,3′-dihydroxy-alpha-carotene = (3R,3’R,6’R)-beta,epsilon-carotene-3,3′-diol; 52.5%] and beta- carotene (beta,epsilon-carotene; 10.1%). In addition to the above- mentioned pigments it was successful to reveal the presence of violaxanthin, luteoxanthin, auroxanthin epimers, lutein epoxide, flavoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, 9(9′)-cis-lutein, 13(13′)-cis- lutein, 15-cis-lutein (central-cis)-lutein, alpha-cryptoxanthin, beta- cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene (beta,epsilon-carotene) in small quantities.”  (4)
  10. Initial food technology research on the preparation and use of pumpkin seed flour for use in more nutritious gravy type sauces: Sharma G, Lakhawat S., Development, Quality Evaluation and Acceptability of Pumpkin Seed Flour Incorporated in Gravy. J Nutr Food Sci 7:613. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000613      https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/development-quality-evaluation-and-acceptability-of-pumpkin-seed-flourincorporated-in-gravy-2155-9600-1000613.php?aid=91345
  11. EllenB, Growing Drought Tolerant Vegetables, June 9, 2009, ThriftyFun.com, https://www.thriftyfun.com/Growing-Drought-Tolerant-Vegetables.html (11)
  12. Troy Scott, Drought Tolerant Vegetables for your Garden, July 9 2018, HeavenlyGreens.com http://www.heavenlygreens.com/blog/drought-tolerant-vegetables-for-your-garden (12)
  13. Joan Morris, Vegetable Gardening in a Drought, mercurynews.com, April 1, 2015,  https://www.mercurynews.com/2015/04/01/vegetable-gardening-in-a-drought/ (13)
  14. Extension Utah State University, Vegetable Irrigation: Squash and Pumpkin, Horticulture/Vegetables/2015-4,   https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1744&context=extension_curall (14)
  15. Bardaa S, Ben Halima N, Aloui F, et al. Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2016;15:73. doi:10.1186/s12944-016-0237-0. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827242/ (15)
  16. Zh.Y. Petkova, G.A. Antova, Changes in the composition of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita moschata) during development and maturation. Grassas Y Aceites, 66 (1), Jan–March 2015, e058. http://grasasyaceites.revistas.csic.es/index.php/grasasyaceites/article/viewFile/1523/1658 (16)

Climate change is a 100,000 year change

The buildup of greenhouse gases will take hundreds (link)  to possibly hundreds of thousands of years (link) to breakdown and return the atmosphere to levels that we have been used to during our years on earth as human civilizations. The climate changes are also likely to affect the oceans for hundreds of thousands of years. (link) The graph of the increase in the main greenhouse gases is fairly level and then exponentially increases in the recent past: The Big Picture Breakdown of Greenhouse Gases.

Brief article: There is a Real Risk that Earth’s Climate Could Run Out of Control.

This is serious.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use.

Passive Energy Buildings – building for a future with temperature extremes

Passive Energy Building, links for more information 

Climate change is not just about increased temperatures on a global average it is about increased extremes in temperature and increased risk of severe weather conditions. Architecture in many areas is not suited to extreme changes in outdoor temperatures and often glass is a major building material for aesthetic reasons. Glass walls and large windows can make buildings overly cold during cold weather and overly warm during hot sunny conditions. Passive energy architecture tends to use smaller windows that can be shaded during warm conditions and walls may be made of wider materials that provide better insulation during hot or cold weather. 

There is no question of the reality – human use of fossil fuels has been warming the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution started over one hundred years ago. The ozone layer depletion was addressed successfully with more study and political bipartisan work in the 1970’s and 80’s. Increased use of solar power was also begun at that time but who to blame and loss of fossil fuel profits became more of a concern and disinformation and denial took place after the initial progress with reducing ozone depletion. The history in a long read is available, the introduction and epilogue discuss the current situation and possible directions we are headed as a species and planet inhabitants. “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” by Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times Magazine, August 2, 2018, (Losing Earth/NYTMagazine).

Summary points from the introduction: 

  • Limiting warming to two degrees: tropical reefs will become extinct, sea levels will rise several meters and we will lose the Persian Gulf. This “long term disaster” has become the best case scenario we can hope for if we manage to stop producing greenhouse gases.
  • Three degree warming, possibly the realistic minimum we can expect: “short-term disaster” – loss of forests in the Arctic and loss of most coast cities.
  • Four degree warming: permanent drought in Europe; desertification of large areas of China, India and Bangladesh; Polynesia covered by sea waters; Colorado River reduced to a tiny creek; American Southwest largely uninhabitable.
  • Five degree warming: some leading climate scientist’s consider this level to place human civilization at risk of survival.

Summary take home point – we need to change our civilization in revolutionary ways now – and invent ways to remove greenhouse gases from the air in addition to decreasing adding more to the atmosphere. We need to stop using modern agricultural methods that don’t recycle phosphorus and allow it and other chemicals to run-off into groundwater and coastal waters. (Losing Earth/NYTMagazine).

A free course was available that provides more information about climate change effects that are already occurring and strategies that have been found helpful around the globe: From Climate Science to Action, by The World Bank Group, Coursera.org, resources provided for additional reading are included at the end of this post. A course being offered on the site by the University of Michigan can be enrolled in now which begins August 20th: Act on Climate: Steps to Individual, Community, and Political Action, coursera.org.

This is an area of interest for me but not my area of expertise. Preventative health education is my area of expertise and treating a growing population of humans with more effective methods would also be good for planetary health. Toxic medications eventually add to groundwater pollution and medical equipment and supplies is also adding to pollution.

See these resources for more information about Passive Energy Building and how modifying architecture methods now can help us in the future  (I am not affiliated with any of the resources, this information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use; it is not an inclusive list, just a few resources from a brief search or ones of which I was aware from other reading.): 

The problem of architecture and changing climate described: 

Some Solutions: 

One of the “10 Most Energy Efficient, Sustainable Buildings in the World”: 

A few photos of a passive energy rest area can be viewed in this collection of images of rest areas and travel photography: Where’s that rest stop?

Providing energy in sustainable ways at the community level is a strategy being used in one area of the U.K.: 

  • Chelwood Comm Energy – Community energy group, developing and operating solar power for the local community – chelwood.org

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. — *Passive Energy Building is a health issue because the very young, the elderly, and the chronically ill are more at risk from excessive heat exposure or extremes in temperature and climate change is making extremes in temperature more common in many locations globally. Reducing use of fossil fuels for air conditioning or heating will ultimately help protect against the long term risks of increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • Resources on climate change from: From Climate Science to Action, by The World Bank Group, Coursera.org.

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report 2014, Summary for Policymakers

John Roome, 2016, World Bank Blog, Climate Change from Negotiations to Action

UNFCCC, 2017, Paris Agreement Ratification

FAO, 2017, World’s future food security in ‘jeopardy’

› UNFCCC, 2015, Synthesis Report of the Aggregate Effects of the INDCs

The World Bank, 2015, Shock Waves – Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty.

The World Bank, 2015, Africa Climate Business plan

› UNFCCC, 2015, Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The World Bank, 2013: Building Resilience – Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development

› › World Bank, 2014, “New Climate Normal” Poses Severe Risks to Development in Latin America and the Caribbean

› Diop, Makhtar, World Bank Blog, 2014, Powering Up Africa’s Renewable Energy Revolution

› World Bank, 2014, Climate Change to Bring More Heat, Water Shortages to Middle East & North Africa

› World Bank, 2014, “World Bank Reports Significant Climate Change Impacts in Central Asia, Russia & the Balkans

› World Bank, 2015, Climate Change Threatens to Deepen Poverty in East Asia Pacific by 2030

› Asian Development Bank, 2014, Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia

World Bank, 2012-14, Turn Down the Heat Series: Why a 4°C World Must Be Avoided, Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience, & Confronting the New Climate Normal

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use./