Pumpkinseed oil is rich in EFAs; omega-3 fatty acids are an important component in pumpkinseed oil, along with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals – includes recipe, essential fatty acids

Susan Hodges

Pumpkinseed Oil Is Rich In EFAs

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component in pumpkinseed oil, along with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals

The curative properties of pumpkin seeds and pumpkinseed oil have been known to healers for centuries. Thought to relieve prostate problems, the two were administered to men suffering from such ailments.

The belief that pumpkin seeds and their oil have a beneficial effect on the prostate actually is grounded in fact. The oil is one of the highest vegetable sources of essential fatty acids that are concentrated in the healthy prostate. In fact, prostaglandins, the vital hormone-like compounds that strengthen cell membranes and regulate body function at the molecular level, were first found in the prostate — hence their name.

Pumpkinseed oil is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, ranking second only to flaxseed. The oil’s fatty acid profile reveals a composition of 15 percent linolenic acid (omega-3), 42 percent linoleic acid (omega-6), 34 percent monounsaturates and 9 percent saturated fats.

Because this oil is so concentrated in the polyunsaturated fatty acids, it must be used only in recipes that do not call for heat. Heating changes the molecular structure of the oil and converts it from a cis fat, which the body can burn to produce heat, to a trans fat, which the body cannot burn.

Trans fats, as you may know, have been linked to high cholesterol, heart and artery disease and toxic free radicals. These fats function in a destructive manner similar to that of saturated fats.

Pumpkinseed oil works well as a delicious ingredient in raw vegetable salads, as a cold marinade or as a drizzle over steamed or blanched greens. It can also be used as an oil base for potato or bean salads.

Because of its nutty taste, pumpkinseed oil can be substituted for other oils that are known for their strong flavor, such as sesame, walnut and sunflower. Here’s an example of how pumpkinseed oil can spice up a Boston lettuce-based salad (this recipe is adapted from one by Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., in her book Beyond Pritikin:

Pumpkin Raspberry Dressing

1/2 cup pumpkinseed oil

2 Tbsp raspberry vinegar

1/2 tsp salt substitute

Freshly ground black

pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a small jar, then cover and shake well. Refrigerate. Serves 8 (1 tablespoon equals 1 serving.)

In addition to its wealth of essential fatty acids, pumpkinseed oil is rich in many vitamins and minerals. A serving of pumpkin seeds contains 29 grams of protein, 11.2 mg of iron, 1,144 mg of phosphorus. The oil is a source of zinc, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folic acid, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin, along with other vitamins.

But not all pumpkinseed oil is created equal. The greenish hue of unrefined organic pumpkinseed oil signifies a high level of chlorophyll, which contains magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that is used in more enzyme systems of the body than any other.

For that reason, it’s best to shop for brands of the oil that are rich in color as well as taste. And once you’ve brought your oil home, be sure to store it in a cool, dark place. Pumpkinseed oil, like all highly polyunsaturated oils, is sensitive not only to heat, but to air and light. For those brands bottled in colored glass, the refrigerator is perfect.

Although it must be handled with care, pumpkinseed is an oil that treats its consumers well in return. Not only does it aid in body function; it also acts as a moisturizer, keeping your skin rich in the oils it needs from the inside out.

COPYRIGHT 1990 PRIMEDIA Intertec, a PRIMEDIA Company. All Rights Reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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