Chris Fountain says he ‘felt really stupid’ after mini-stroke
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Every Halloween, British people throw away millions of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds. But Britons may be missing out on a powerful health remedy by doing this. Among other health benefits, pumpkin seeds may reduce stroke risk.
Pumpkin seeds contain key nutrients that are thought to offer protection against high blood pressure – one of the main causes of stroke.
Erin Holley, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told EatThis, NotThat!: “These small little seeds are chock-full of nutrition, such as protein, magnesium, potassium, and polyunsaturated fats.”
In past studies, magnesium has been associated with lower blood pressure.
Pumpkin seeds are also known to contain phenolic acids – a group of antioxidants that may prevent damage to cells and prevent blood clotting.
One study found that rats given pumpkin-seed oil alongside hypertension drugs showed “significant beneficial hypotensive [blood pressure lowering] action”.
The results were attributed to the “antioxidant properties” of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are thought to also help tackle high cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for stroke.
Strokes happen when the blood supplying the brain is restricted or stopped. This causes brain cells to die.
High levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood can cause the blood to be restricted. It can lead to fatty deposits in your blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis.
However, experts warn that too many pumpkin seeds can bring health risks.
“There is one caveat to the fibre, though,” Professor Wylie-Rosett of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine warned.
She told the American Stroke Association: “If somebody has not been eating very much fibre at all, and they then eat a large quantity of pumpkin seeds … they may end up with some digestive-tract disturbance.”
What else can pumpkin seeds do?
Aside from cutting stroke risk, and growing pumpkins, the little seeds can also help provide a good night’s sleep.
They are a source of tryptophan – a well-known sleep-inducing chemical.
John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains: “When we eat foods that contain L-tryptophan, this amino acid travels in the blood from the digestive system and later enters the brain,
“The brain then changes the L-tryptophan into another chemical called serotonin… Serotonin calms us down and helps us sleep.”
Other foods that can help slash stroke risk
Potassium also helps lower your stroke risk. The nutrient can be found in potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, prunes, melon, and soybeans – as well as pumpkin seeds.
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