Pumpkin Eases Stress

Armen Hareyan's picture
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As you enjoy your second piece of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, consider this: A Toronto physician has found that an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds helped research subjects feel less nervous in stressful situations.

In the most recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (September 2007; 85(9):928-932), Craig Hudson, M.D., reports that subjects who consumed pumpkin seeds reported feeling calmer -- and recorded slower heart rates -- as they performed a task while being videotaped.

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Organic pumpkin seed flour, pressed to remove the oil, contains a high amount (22 mg per gram) of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to both melatonin and serotonin. Combined with carbohydrates to cross the blood-brain barrier more effectively, the tryptophan reacts to light to ease stress during the daytime and promote sleep after dark.

In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study (Nutritional Neuroscience, April 2005, 8(2):121-127), research subjects reported not only that they fell asleep more easily and stayed asleep longer when taking the food-based tryptophan, but that they felt less stressed and more relaxed during the day, lost weight and even enjoyed sex more.

Dr. Hudson, a Toronto psychiatrist, studies how the brain responds to dietary changes. In his book Feel Great Day and Night, Dr. Hudson suggests a simple behavior modification plan to trade bad sleep habits for restful nights and more pleasant days.

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