Roasting Pumpkin Seeds the Heart-Healthy Way

Written by admin   // October 25, 2011   // 0 Comments

When carving a Halloween pumpkin this year, make sure you hang on to the seeds. The American Heart Association recommends everyone get four servings of seeds, nuts or legumes each week. Roasted pumpkin seeds not only taste great, they’re good for your heart – if you make them the right way.

Pumpkins seeds are packed with energy, meaning they’re high in calories and fat. Luckily, it’s the “good” kind of fat – unsaturated fats which help lower your LDL. However, even when prepared properly, you still want to limit a serving to one small handful or those calories will pile up quickly. These unsaturated fats are beneficial only when eaten in moderation to replace foods high in saturated fats and trans fats. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your fat intake to 25-35% of your total calories for the day. Eating pumpkins seeds in the shell actually makes them better for you. By eating the shells, you get 37 fewer calories and more than double the dietary fiber. Pumpkin seeds are considered nutrient-dense. They contain protein, zinc, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamins A & C and many other vital nutrients.

So, how do you avoid turning a healthy snack into a horror show of fat and sodium? Cut out the butter and the salt! Instead of melted butter, use olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, soybean or corn oil. These oils are high in polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat, which help lower your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. When you are roasting the seeds, grease your pan or baking sheet using low-fat, low-calorie cooking spray.

Many recipes call for at least a teaspoon of salt. A single teaspoon of salt contains 2300mg of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends you only get 1500mg of sodium per day! Some recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, which adds even more sodium. When you’re grocery shopping, make sure you look for reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce. Also, try other spices instead of salt for your roasted pumpkin seeds. Garlic and onion powder can add a lot of flavor. Cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice work for people with more of a sweet tooth. If you like things on the spicy side, try pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder or dry mustard.

It is extra work, and you do lose some dietary fiber, but shelled pumpkin seeds are good for you as well. Shelled pumpkin seeds can be added to yogurt, cereal, granola, salads or even homemade trail mix.

Follow these tips and you can have fun and keep your heart healthy!

Healthy Tips for Roasting Pumpkin Seeds from the American Heart Association

Toss 2 cups of pumpkin seeds with oil/sauces (usually 3-4 tablespoons) until coated.

  • When coating the seeds, instead of melted butter or margarine use oils high in “better” fats such as:

    • Monounsaturated Fat: Olive, Canola or Peanut Oil

    • Polyunsaturated Fat: Sunflower, Soybean or Corn Oil

  • If your recipe calls for it, use “reduced-sodium” Worcestershire or Hot Sauce

  • Add a little lemon juice for some extra zing.

Place seeds in one layer on a greased baking sheet or cooking pan.

  • Coat pans and baking sheets with low-fat, low-calorie cooking spray.

Sprinkle seasonings (usually between 1½ and 4 teaspoons, to taste) on pumpkin seeds.

  • Use other seasonings instead of salt.

    • For sweet seeds use:

      • Cinnamon

      • Pumpkin Pie Spice (Watch the saturated fat!)

    • For spicier seeds use:

      • Garlic (Not Garlic Salt!)

      • Onion Powder (Not Onion Salt!)

      • Pepper

      • Dry Mustard

      • Paprika

      • Ground Cumin

      • Cayenne Pepper

      • Chili Powder (Watch the sodium and saturated fat!)

      • Reduced-Sodium Taco Seasoning (Watch the sodium!)

Roast on the top rack of the oven at 250º for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

-or-

Microwave pumpkin seeds for 2-3 minutes, stirring after each minute.

Allow roasted seeds to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Remember, a serving is ONE small handful!

Make sure you store leftover roasted pumpkin seeds in an air-tight container.


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