More than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills each year after Halloween. Before discarding jack-o-lanterns on your porch this year, make sure you save the seeds at least.

Toasted pumpkin seeds can be a nutritious and satisfying snack. They can be easily included in your everyday diet in the form of toppings in cereals, soups or salads.

A quarter cup of dried pumpkin seed kernels serves 180 calories. They are a rich source of protein, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, fiber and minerals. The high fiber content in pumpkin seeds helps in blood sugar control and makes you feel satiated.

Health benefits of pumpkin seeds

1. Source of Magnesium: Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, the mineral essential for bone strength, regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure and heart health. Some animal studies have shown that consuming pumpkin seed oil may help reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure, two main factors that affect heart health.

2. Inflammation control: Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory abilities, which can be beneficial for the functioning of the liver, bladder, bowel and joints. They are a good source of antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids that help in disease protection and inflammation control.

3. Anti-cancer properties: Studies show that pumpkin seeds contain compounds that can protect against certain types of cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.

4. Better sleep: Pumpkin seeds contain sleep-promoting minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium, and amino acids such as tryptophan. Studies show these minerals in pumpkin seeds can help in reducing stress and anxiety that can lead to disturbed sleep or insomnia.

How much to eat?

Although pumpkin seeds serve as a superfood with excellent health benefits, make sure you don't overeat. Too much of pumpkin seeds can lead to issues such as constipation, gas and bloating as they are high in fiber.

Regularly consuming large quantities of pumpkin seeds can also lead to weight gain as they are high in calories and fat. Store-bought pumpkin seeds may also have added salt.

The American Heart Association recommends taking a quarter cup (30 gm) of pumpkin seeds as part of a healthy diet.