Let’s talk about the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds.
These include improved heart health, prostate health, and protection against certain cancers. You can easily incorporate it into your diet.
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds that are supported by science.
1. Full of Valuable Nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepita,” a Mexican Spanish term.
Unlike the hard white seeds from a carving pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds bought at the supermarket don’t have a shell.
These shell-free seeds are green, flat, and oval. One ounce (28 grams) of shell-free pumpkin seeds has roughly 151 calories, mainly from fat and protein.
In addition, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains:
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Copper: 19% of the RDI
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s)
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Iron: 23% of the RDI
- Zinc: 14% of the RDI
They also hold many antioxidants and a fair amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and folate.
Pumpkin seeds and seed oil also pack many other nutrients and plant compounds that have been shown to provide health benefits.
2. High in Antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E.
Antioxidants can decrease inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. That’s why eating foods rich in antioxidants can help protect against many diseases.
It’s thought that the high levels of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds are partly responsible for their positive effects on health.
In one research, pumpkin seed oil decreased inflammation in rats with arthritis without side effects, whereas animals given an anti-inflammatory drug experienced adverse effects.
3. Linked to a Decreased Risk of Certain Cancers
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been linked with a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers.
A large observational study found that eating them was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Other studies suggest that the lignans in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in preventing and treating breast cancer.
More test-tube studies found that a supplement containing pumpkin seeds had the potential to slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
4. Improve Prostate and Bladder Health
Pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges, causing problems with urination.
Several studies in humans found that eating these seeds reduced symptoms associated with BPH.
In a one-year study in over 1,400 men with BPH, pumpkin seed-eating reduced symptoms and improved quality of life.
Further research suggests that taking pumpkin seeds or their products as supplements can help treat symptoms of an overactive bladder.
One research in 45 men and women with overactive bladders found that 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily improved urinary function.
5. Very High in Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a mineral that is often lacking in the diets of many Western populations.
In the US, around 79% of adults have a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount.
Magnesium is needed for more than 600 chemical reactions in your body. For example, adequate levels of magnesium are important for:
- Controlling the blood pressure.
- Reducing heart disease risk.
- Forming and maintaining healthy bones.
- Regulating blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and fatty acids — all of which may help keep your heart healthy.
Animal studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, two important risk factors for heart disease.
A 12-week study in 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading) by 7% and increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels by 16%.
Other studies suggest that pumpkins’ ability to increase nitric oxide generation in your body may be responsible for its positive effects on heart health.
Nitric oxide helps expand blood vessels, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of plaque growth in your arteries.
7. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Animal research has shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder, and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar.
This is very important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
Several studies have found that supplementing with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.
An observational study in over 127,000 people found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34% lower risk in women.
More research is needed to confirm the beneficial effects of pumpkin seeds on blood sugar levels.
8. High in Fiber
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber — shelled seeds provide 1.1 grams of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-gram) serving.
A diet high in fiber can promote good digestive health.
High-fiber diets have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
9. May Improve Sperm Quality
Low zinc levels are linked with decreased sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men. Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may improve sperm quality.
Evidence from one study in mice suggests they may also protect human sperm from damage caused by chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health.
Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in men.
10. May Help Improve Sleep
If you have difficulty sleeping, you may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before bed. They’re a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.
Eating around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is thought to improve sleep. Nevertheless, you would need to eat around 7 ounces (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds to achieve the needed amount of tryptophan.
The zinc in these seeds can also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep.
Some small studies have discovered that taking a magnesium supplement boost sleep quality and total sleep time in people with low magnesium levels.
11. Easy to Add to Your Diet
If you want to experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they’re easy to incorporate into your diet. In many countries, they’re a popular snack eaten raw or roasted, salted or unsalted.
Besides eating them independently, you can add them to smoothies, Greek yogurt, and fruit.
You could incorporate them into meals by sprinkling them into salads, soups, or cereals. Some people use pumpkin seeds in baking as an ingredient for sweet or savory bread and cakes.
However, as with many seeds and nuts, they contain phytic acid, reducing the bioavailability of some nutrients you eat.
If you eat seeds and nuts daily, you may want to soak or sprout them to decrease their phytic acid content.