It’s that time of year again. The air is getting crisper, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are changing color. Unfortunately, it’s also the dreaded cold and flu season. Arm yourself with one of the best immune boosting foods – pumpkin seeds! One of Health Warrior’s favorite superfoods contains several key nutrients needed to strengthen your immune system.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a rich source of zinc containing 14% of our RDI (recommended dietary intake).(1) Zinc is an essential nutrient in the immune system and is imperative for normal development and function of cells. Zinc deficiency has long been shown to weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses. When searching for an immune boosting food, consider it’s amount of zinc.
Pumpkins seeds are crammed with 13g of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the main component of immune system cell membranes. The quality and composition of these cells are directly linked to dietary intake, confirming that you truly are what you eat.(3)
Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of Vitamin E: another well-known property of immune boosting foods. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system by serving as an antioxidant, thus protecting immune cells against damage so they can successfully multiply and fend off viral infections.(4)
Pumpkin seeds are an abundant source of tryptophan, which helps you get your zzz’s, treats insomnia, and boosts your sense of well being. Lack of sleep can hinder your immune system. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to become sick after being exposed to a virus and are slower to recover once sick.(5)
Tryptophan has been shown to help treat insomnia due to its ability to convert into serotonin (that “feel good” chemical) and melatonin (the hormone that helps you fall asleep).(6)
A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience showed that consuming tryptophan paired with a little complex carbohydrate (think oatmeal or sweet potato) may be just as effective as pharmaceutical-grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia.
Try Pumpkin Seeds for Yourself
Here are some easy tips to enjoy more pumpkin seeds this cold and flu season:
- Enjoy a Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Protein Bar!
- Sprinkle some on a salad.
- Use them as a garnish for butternut squash soup.
- Sprinkle on top of muffins, breads, or a Protein Mug Muffin.
- Mix with your favorite granola.
- Grind them up and add them to your favorite burger, meatless burger, or meatball.
- Add crunch to your favorite yogurt.
- Blend into your smoothie.
- Throw in your food processor and grind into a seed butter.
- Add them to your Thanksgiving stuffing.
Eat for immunity this season. Pumpkin seeds are a highly nutritious and delicious superfood that’s easy to add into your daily routine. Not only are pumpkin seeds a serious immune booster, they have also been shown to improve heart health, reduce stress and anxiety, balance blood sugars, and much more. Read more about the benefits here and shop Pumpkin Seed Bars!