Nuts and seeds make up an important part of a heart-healthy diet, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center, and including them in your diet contributes to lifelong health. Pepitas -- another name for pumpkin seeds -- help increase your intake of nuts and seeds, and they also boast an impressive nutritional profile. They contain macronutrients that not only provide energy, they also benefit your health and provide essential minerals required for proper tissue function.
Healthy Fats and Protein
Each 1-ounce portion of pepitas provides you with 8.5 grams of protein, which your body uses to maintain the health of your skin and hair, as well as nourish lean muscle tissue. Pepitas also contain 14 grams of fat, made up of healthy monounsaturated and polunsaturated fatty acids. These unsaturated fats help reduce your cholesterol levels, protecting you from high cholesterol that puts you at risk of heart disease. Fat also serves as a rich source of energy, providing the fuel you need to get through a busy day.
Iron and Zinc
Pepitas boost your intake of essential minerals, including iron and zinc. Each ounce provides 2.3 milligrams of iron, approximately 13 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 29 percent for men. A serving also contains 27 percent of the daily zinc requirements for women and12 percent for men, according to the Institute of Medicine, as reported by the Office of Dietary Supplements. Consuming enough iron helps your body transport oxygen properly and promotes healthy cell growth, while zinc supports your metabolism and nourishes your immune system.
Copper and Phosphorus
Consuming pepitas also boosts your intake of copper and phosphorus. Phosphorus plays a role in oxygen transport in your body, regulates your hormone balance and makes up part of your DNA. Copper nourishes your nervous system, keeps your connective tissue strong and helps you produce energy. Each ounce of pepitas offers 40 percent of your daily copper intake requirements, as well as 48 percent of the daily recommended phosphorus intake for both men and women, according to the Institute of Medicine, as reported by the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Consuming More Pepitas
Use pepitas to make healthy baked goods, such as muffins or breads. They pair especially well with fruits -- try making whole-grain muffins with pepitas and strawberries as a healthy breakfast, or enjoy multigrain bread made with pepitas and cranberries. Add roughly chopped pepitas to your sandwiches, use them as a garnish for healthy soups, or add an ounce of pepitas to a refreshing salad. Grind pepitas in your food processor to make pumpkin-seed butter, or combine them with other nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, to make all-natural nut-butter blends.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart-Healthy Diet - Nutrition Basics
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels, Roasted, Without Salt
- University of Utah Health Care: Finding the Right Mix of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Phosphorus
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Copper
- University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Services: Pumpkin Seeds
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.