The Underrated Seed That's Cheap, Plentiful, and Easy to Find

Halloween is behind us, but we've only just begun to enjoy the pleasures of pumpkins. From Pumpkin Spice Lattes to grandma's pie at Thanksgiving, those fabulous orange fruits (yes, really!) are the gift that keeps on giving. But the best part of the pumpkin is often overlooked: the seeds.

That's right: The slimy stuff you scooped out before carving your jack-o'-lantern (or prize-winning portrait of your favorite presidential candidate) is actually goopy health gold. Those unassuming little seeds have amazing benefits for your bod. To name a few:

They're packed with minerals, like magnesium and zinc

Like having energy? Then you want to get your daily dose of magnesium, which activates the energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It also keeps your ticker ticking, strengthens bones, and is super important for brain function. Another brainpower mineral, zinc, is needed for numerous types of body magic, from wound healing to immunity. And while you don't want to overdo it with zinc, research shows it can decrease the duration and severity of colds.

Protein and "good" fat abound!

While pumpkin seeds make a great addition to anyone's diet, vegetarians and vegans especially can benefit from their protein content. For the carnivorous among us, snacking on heart-healthy seeds like these can offset the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meats. And don't worry about the fat in pumpkin seeds -- it's the healthy kind!

They've got fiber for days

You probably know that fiber is important for keeping the ol' bowels in good working order, but it's got other perks too, such as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For extra fiber, go for the whole seeds over the hull-less version, also called "pepitas" or "hearts." Or as I like to say, go hull or go home. (Seriously, I always say that.)

There's something for everyone

Not everyone loves snacking on seeds straight from the source -- you know, because humans aren’t birds. Roasting can give the chewy seeds a nice crunch, but for those who prefer their seeds sans hull, there's good news: Certain varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without hulls. The green pumpkin seeds you see in stores most likely came from the oh-so-sexy "naked-seeded" pumpkins, also known as "oilseed." So go get yourself some green-seed deliciousness, because as anyone who's tried it knows, it's just not worth it to disrobe the seeds by hand.

Do it yourself -- or don't

If you want to get all up in a pumpkin and prepare the seeds yourself, more power to you. But don't fret if you'd rather not wade through pumpkin innards. Your local grocery or health-food store likely carries at least one of the many packaged varieties -- whole or hull-less, raw or roasted, salted or sweetened. If you're roasting at home, you can experiment with different flavors, like cinnamon-sugar or hot-and-spicy. What happens behind closed doors between you and your pumpkin seeds is your business.

So take a trip to the pumpkin patch or food-selling place near you and stock up on these splendiferous seeds, a treat so good for you that doctors literally prescribe them.

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Katie McDonough is a freelance writer and editor who eats pumpkin seeds like candy. Follow her @thewritekatie.