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What are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds?

Occasional consumption of small amounts of alcohol and moderate ingestion of caffeine-containing products are not contraindicated during breastfeeding, according to guidelines of the Institute of Medicine IOM.

Some experts note that although an occasional alcoholic drink causes no problem, alcohol can interfere with the letdown reflex and reduce milk production by 23 percent for a few hours after consumption. Women should be cautioned that consuming large amounts of alcohol may interfere with their ability to breastfeed effectively and may adversely affect their infant in other ways e.

The health benefits of fish and seafood have been well documented and widely promoted in recent years. Fish is low in saturated fat and is a healthy alternative to red meat.

It provides the body with essential vitamins and minerals, including iron; zinc from shellfish ; vitamins A, B, and D; and, of course, protein. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also beneficial, particularly for cardiovascular health.

Multiple studies have documented prenatal exposure to mercury and its effects on fetal development, and breastfeeding mothers are advised to minimize fish consumption because mercury passes through breast milk. PCBs are highly toxic, and infants may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of these chemicals. Women of Reproductive Age: Recommendations for Consumption of Fish Low levels of mercury and low in fat. Constipation is common during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Contributing factors include relaxed muscle tone following delivery, inadequate fluid intake, a diet low in fiber, iron or calcium supplementation, painful hemorrhoids, or fear of damaging perineal repair during a bowel movement. The use of ice packs or sitz baths can be encouraged to alleviate persistent hemorrhoidal or perineal pain that interferes with bowel movements. Published studies confirm the importance of regular exercise in the postpartum period, as in other times of life, although its effect on weight loss may not be significant without specific calorie restriction.

Evaluating the integrity and function of the pelvic floor and assessing the diastasis recti are integral components of the postpartum visit. Kegel exercises have been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of stress incontinence.

Patients should be instructed to contract the pelvic muscles for 10 seconds and then relax them for 10 seconds for 15 minutes four times per day.

Women may need help from a qualified provider in locating the right muscles antepartum. Providers can offer information on postpartum exercise programs available at the YMCA, fitness centers, or hospitals in the community to all new mothers in the birth center, hospital, or at the four- to six-week visit.

Postpartum exercise programs are good resources that offer opportunities for physical activity, mutual support, short-term daycare, and a way to meet other women with infants. New mothers also may find it convenient to use postpartum DVDs or videos to supplement their exercise regimen. Fast walking with a baby jogger-type stroller, either outdoors or in a local indoor mall, also can be recommended. Many pregnancy magazines are an excellent resource for women of all fitness levels, both during pregnancy and postpartum.

They offer step-by-step exercise programs, which are particularly useful for women who were not very physically fit before they became pregnant. Some women may be able to engage in an exercise routine within days of delivery; others may need to wait four to six weeks.

As with vaginal birth, recommendations for exercise after cesarean birth depend upon obstetric and medical history and rate of physical recovery. In most cases, exercises to restore abdominal muscle tone in the cesarean mother can begin as soon as abdominal soreness diminishes. These exercises can help in bringing the rectus muscles back together.

Diet, Nutrition, and Exercise checklist Many women consume less than the recommended amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, and folate. Nutrition Services in Perinatal Care. Mineral and bone mass changes during pregnancy and lactation. Bone mineral changes in obese women during a moderate weight loss with and without calcium supplementation. J Bone Miner Res ;16 1: J Am Coll Nutr ;21 2: The role of dairy foods in weight management.

J Am Coll Nutr ;24 6 Suppl: The influence of dairy product consumption on body composition. J Nutr ; Absorbability of calcium sources: Calcif Tissue Int ;46 5: Absorbability and cost effectiveness in calcium supplementation. J Am Coll Nutr ;20 3: Guidelines for Perinatal Care. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; Oxford University Press; Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation.

Medicine of the Fetus and Mother. A study published in in Nutritional Neuroscience suggested that consuming tryptophan from a gourd seed alongside a carbohydrate source was comparable to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia. Having a few pumpkin seeds before bed, with a small amount of carbohydrates such as a piece of fruit, may be beneficial in providing your body with the tryptophan needed for melatonin production. Researchers have determined that every g of pumpkins seeds contains 7.

For male adults aged 19 years and above, the ODS recommend a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc and 8 mg for women. Low levels of zinc alter circulating levels of multiple hormones associated with the onset of labor. Nutritionists recommend additional zinc during pregnancy, as it is likely to improve health outcomes.

Zinc is also essential for normal immune function and prevention of uterine infections. All of these could potentially contribute to preterm delivery. Non-refined pumpkin seed oil is thought to offer antioxidant protection. This is due to its PUFA and lipophilic antioxidant content. Refining an oil removes or reduces these substances. Antioxidants are considered to be "scavengers,"tasked with removing unwanted waste substances known as free radicals. If these substances remain in the body, there is a higher risk of a range of health problems.

Antioxidants have a wide range of uses, including reducing inflammation. One study, published in , found that, in rats with arthritis , symptoms improved after taking pumpkin seed oil. A German study, published in , suggested that a high consumption of pumpkin seeds may be linked to a lower risk of breast cancer after menopause.

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of squalene, an antioxidant compound that is similar to beta-carotene. Squalene occurs throughout all body tissues, and it appears to play a role in protecting the skin during UV and other types of radiation exposure.

Squalene may also offer protection from cancer , but more research is needed to prove this. Pumpkin seeds have traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac in some places. In an in-house study at Mansoura University in Egypt, rats consumed a pumpkin seed extract combined with zinc. The researchers concluded that pumpkin seeds may have a beneficial effect on sexual health status. A study published in suggested that pumpkin seed oil may be safe and effective as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia BPH.

Those who consumed mg a day of the oil over 6 months saw a reduction in their symptoms and improved quality of life. In , scientists found evidence that pumpkin seed oil might help treat urinary disorders in men and women. Treatment with the oil was linked to a reduction in symptoms of an overactive bladder.

A gram serving of one brand's in-shell, salted, roasted pumpkin seeds provides:. Pumpkin seeds are also a source of magnesium, zinc, copper , and selenium. One scientific study has found that g of pumpkin seeds contains:. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements ODS , seeds are good sources of magnesium, one of the seven essential macrominerals. In one study, scientists found that grams g of pumpkin seeds contained The ODS recommend that males aged 19 to 30 years should consume mg of magnesium a day, and females mg or mg during pregnancy.

Older people should have a slightly higher intake. Magnesium plays an important role in over enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and proteins. Magnesium is vital for the proper functioning of muscles. Magnesium deficiency is prevalent in older populations. It is linked to insulin resistance , metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis.

Pumpkin seeds can be eaten alone as a snack or added to dishes for extra taste and a crunchy texture. Seeds have a high-fat content, so they are prone to rancidity. Keep pumpkin seeds in a cool, dark, and dry place to improve shelf life. If stored properly, pumpkin seeds will keep for months. It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health.

It is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health. Pumpkin seeds and related products are available for purchase online. We picked linked items based on the quality of products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you.

We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline UK and our partners may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link s above.

Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Tue 24 July All references are available in the References tab. Effect of zinc supplementation on pregnancy and infant outcomes: Zinc supplementation during pregnancy. Effect of pumpkin-seed oil on the level of free radical scavengers induced during adjuvant-athritis in rats [Abstract]. Pharmacological Research, 31 1 , Full report All nutrients: Fluorescence screening of antioxidant capacity in pumpkin seed oils and other natural oils [Abstract].

European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. Nutrition Research and Practice, 3 4 , Protein source tryptophan versus pharmaceutical grade tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for chronic insomnia [Abstract]. Nutritional Neuroscience, 8 2: Squalene and its potential clinical uses. Alternative Medicine Review , 4 1 , Hypolipidemic and hepatoprotective effects of flax and pumpkin seed mixture rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in hypercholesterolemic rats [Abstract].

Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46 Pumpkin seed oil extracted from Cucurbita Maxima improves urinary disorder in human overactive bladder. Plant sterols and stanols phytosterols. Phytosterol composition of nuts and seeds commonly consumed in the United States [Abstract].

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 30 53 , Phytosterol, squalene, tocophero, content and fatty acid profile of selected seeds, grains, and legumes [Abstract]. Plant foods for human nutrition, 62 3 , Biological study on the effect of pumpkin seeds and zinc on reproductive potential of male rats. Effects of dietary milled seed mixture on fatty acid status and inflammatory markers in patients on hemodialysis. The Scientific World Journal. Consumption of plant seeds and cardiovascular health: Epidemiologic and clinical trial evidence.

Circulation, 5 , Dietary fiber and the human gut microbiota: Application of evidence mapping methodology. Nutrients, 9 2 , Fact sheet for professionals.

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