If you plan on carving a pumpkin this Halloween, why not reserve and roast the seeds for an extra nutrition boost? Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas) are a top source of magnesium, which recent research suggests may improve memory!

A study published in Neuron examined how increased magnesium influenced rats to remember their way through a maze. Extra magnesium increased memory recall by a whopping 56% — thanks in part to a 142% growth in synaptic endings, boosting the speed of brain cell transmission by 160%. While the age process can besiege the brain on several fronts — shrinking the cerebral cortex, hardening neural connections –magnesium appears to heighten sensitivity of brain receptors to new signals.

About two-thirds of adults fall short on magnesium — a mineral needed not just for memory, but also for blood pressure regulation, muscle function, and healthy bones and teeth. Other research links magnesium with lower risk of diabetes, gallstones, and even some cancers. While pumpkin seeds provide 37% magnesium per ounce, other sources include spinach (40%), halibut (10%), artichokes (20%) and beans such as soy (37%), black (30%) and navy (25%).*


* Percentage based on 6 oz fish, 1 cup cooked beans/vegetables.

Published October 1, 2011