The surprisingly healthy thing about Halloween

  • Hate Halloween? Love it? Either way, there’s something very healthy about this popular decoration 
  • The ‘scary’ veg that can reduce inflammation, lower risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes… 
  • And naturally relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

Ready for Halloween?

“Of course not, Ray,” you shout. “I’m not a child, I am [INSERT YOUR AGE HERE]!”

Or maybe you love it and your home is draped in fake cobwebs and dangling skeletons.

I’ll admit, I’ve never been big on Halloween.

I think it’s because when I was a kid it wasn’t such a big deal. Maybe the odd party with bobbing for apples… some school projects about witches… a few scary films on the telly… that was Halloween.

I never went trick or treating. It was an American thing “when I were a lad”.

Now the youth have gone trick or treat crazy.

Each year you either have to buy a tonne of sweets to dish out to menacing tykes in tablecloth ghost costumes or you have to switch off all the lights and hide upstairs until it’s over.

Anyway, whether you love it, loathe it, or couldn’t care less, there is something very healthy about Halloween.

The pumpkins.

Why there’s something very healthy about this popular decoration

You’ll see masses of pumpkins for sale right now, and most of the supermarket stock will be sold by the 31st, leaving just the weird shaped ones, green ones and mushy ones.

That’s a LOT of people buying pumpkins.

But most are just hollowing them out, carving scary faces on them and leaving them out to slowly rot.

However, if you are buying them in as a seasonal decoration, or you have children, grandkids or neighbours who are celebrating, then don’t let them go to waste.

The seeds inside pumpkins are super healthy – and the very best kind are those you scoop fresh from inside the stringy guts of the pumpkin.

That’s because the seeds inside a fresh pumpkin still have the shells on, which have more fibre (and less salt) than the shelled version in shops.

What’s more, they’re fresh, seasonal, low salt, and high in active nutrients.

Usually, buying a whole pumpkin for the seeds isn’t economical or practical – but at Halloween people are buying them and chucking away the good stuff, so it’s the only time in the year there’s a glut of pumpkins to plunder, so take your chance to get the really good stuff.

And if you do get hold of some, here are the benefits:

Seven great reasons to eat pumpkin seeds

  • They contain a lot of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals.
  • The unshelled versions are packed with fibre to help your digestive health and – as part of a good diet – can help reduce your risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
  • A regular intake of pumpkin seeds has been linked with a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers. One observational study has associated them with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
  • Eating pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is a painful problem when the prostate gland enlarges, making urination difficult.
  • They’re one of the best sources of magnesium, which is deficient in most people’s diets in the UK. Getting enough magnesium is good for blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as heart and bone health. It can also help lower your risk of type-2 diabetes.
  • Some studies show that pumpkin seeds help the body generate nitric oxide, which expands the blood vessels and improves blood flow, with benefits for long-term heart health.
  • They’re also a good source of zinc, which is important as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. Zinc also helps your body convert tryptophan into serotonin. This is turned into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. So they’re ideal if you suffer from insomnia or disturbed sleep.

If you’ve never eaten the seeds from a freshly gutted pumpkin, here are a few tips….

How to prepare the seeds

You can, if you want, simply eat the seeds, although they’ll be really hard and chewy; also, a bit slimy from the pulpy residue.

Better to soak them for a few hours to get them nice and clean, with no pulpy bits attached.

Once the seeds are clean, you can add some spices for flavour, then roast them on a sheet of baking paper in the oven for around 15 minutes. They’ll come out tasty and crispy.

Now you can eat these by the handful as a delicious snack or add them as a bit of crunch to salads, stews, soups and cereals. You can also add them to fruit and yoghurt as a breakfast or healthy dessert option.

Oh, and just because I’ve focussed on the seeds in this letter, don’t just throw away the pumpkin flesh either.

The additional benefits of eating THE FLESH

Pumpkin is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which can help keep you healthy this autumn.

For instance, it contains high levels of beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. This helps strengthen your immune system and help fight infections, so it’s another one to add to that list of remedies to ward off coughs, cold, flu and other nasties which I showed you a few weeks ago.

To use pumpkin, think of it like a butternut squash or similar – get rid of the stringy bits, cut into chunks, then  add some seasoning, herbs and spices before roasting in the oven. You can then use it to make a soup or add it to stews.

So there you have it…

A seasonal decoration that is also a powerful health remedy and delicious foodstuff all in one.

It’s not all horror and sticky sweets at Halloween!

I’ll be back with more advice and tips soon.

Yours as ever

Ray Collins