Don’t throw away your pumpkin seeds! They also strengthen bones and help with PMS.
Turns out the seeds of two of our favorite fall squash – butternut and pie pumpkins – are nutritional powerhouses with a special protein that’s great at stopping skin cancer in its tracks.
A 2003 study found that a protein in the seeds of the species cucurbita moschata, which includes butternut squash and pie pumpkins, was a “potent inhibitor” of the growth of melanoma cells.
The researchers said the ribosome-inactivating protein in the seeds has promising potential as a general anti-cancer agent.
The orange-colored flesh of the squashes also have anti-cancer properties. They have unusually high concentrations of carotenoid antioxidants, which help rid the body of free radicals, according to a 2014 study.
One serving of butternut squash has almost five times (457%) the recommended daily value of vitamin A, the source of the cancer-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. (Vitamin A is impossible to absorb without fat, so be sure to add some grass-fed butter or olive oil).
It’s also a good source of vitamin C (52%), manganese (18%), potassium (17%), magnesium (15%), vitamin E (13%), all the B vitamins (10-13%), calcium (8%), iron (7%), copper (7%) and phosphorus (6%)… all vitamins and minerals most of us don’t get enough of.
“High levels of potassium in the body are associated with denser bones, even in postmenopausal women and older men, both of whom often have more brittle bones and are at a higher risk of osteoporosis,” says Dr. Axe in his blog.
Manganese, a hard-to-find mineral, manganese is also essential for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis, especially in women who have undergone menopause, he adds.
PMS rescue remedy
Low levels of manganese are associated with more severe PMS pain and mood symptoms. Butternut squash is one of a relatively small number of foods that contains a substantial amount of manganese, and of course, a whole-food source of a vitamin is always easier to absorb than in pill form.
Potassium also helps prevent and alleviate menstrual and other muscle cramps.
Vitamins K and E are also PMS-fighting nutrients.