Wondering what to do with all those seeds hacked from the orange flesh of your halloween pumpkin? You could try eating them, especially if you’re on a low-protein diet or likely to be exposed to the organic solcent carbon tetrachloride (tetrachloromethane)!
According to researchers in South Africa, pumpkin seeds can protect the liver from the harmful effects of protein deficiency and exposure to hepatotoxins such as carbon tet.
The seeds of the pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) contain a protein that is a potent antioxidant according to SE Terblanche and colleagues at the University of Zululand in KwaDlangezwa.
The researchers tested the effects of protein isolate on blood plasma levels of certain enzymes including catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase, and on total antioxidant capacity in the liver of rats fed a low protein diet that were exposed to carbon tetrachloride.
They report that, “From the results of the present study it is concluded that pumpkin seed protein isolate administration was effective in alleviating the detrimental effects associated with protein malnutrition and carbon tetrachloride intoxication.” Terblanche and colleagues explain that this indicates that pumpkin seed protein isolate has powerful antiperoxidative properties.
Details of the research appears in the November issue of the journal Phytotherapy Research, 2006, 20(11), 935-940.
Of course, swallowing a handful of pumpkin seeds is not really going to provide adequate protection against ingestion of carbon tetrachloride, so please don’t make it a Halloween chaser.