Don’t throw away the seeds after the Thanksgiving meals. Save them
Pumpkin seeds, or pepito, are mini reservoirs of nutrition. They contain unsaturated fatty acids, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, essential amino acids, and phenolic compounds. Snacking on these seeds may help manage diabetes, heart disorders, muscle/bone pain, hair fall, and acne.
Explore the therapeutic and tasty side of these seeds in the following sections. Scroll down!
Table Of Contents
Why Should You Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo L.) are natural reserves of fats and proteins. They are rich in oil (50%) too. Palmitic (≤15%), stearic (≤8%), oleic (≤47%), and linoleic (≤61%) fatty acids make up the oil (1).
Hence, pumpkin seeds fall into the category of nutritious oil seeds, along with sunflower, soybean, safflower, and watermelon seeds (1).
Pumpkin seeds are growing popular as a rich source of nutrition. They are being sold as a snack mixed with various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
The high levels of oleic and linoleic fatty acids in pumpkin seeds may reduce the risk of heart diseases. They possess fair amounts of minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and copper (1), (2).
Studies prove that these elements may combat gastric, breast, lung, and colorectal cancers (1).
Go through the next section to know what pumpkin seeds do to your body. You can also find suitable scientific evidence for these benefits.
How Do Pumpkin Seeds Benefit Your Health?
Pumpkin seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-arthritic, and antidiabetic properties. Extensive research also linked the consumption of these seeds to lower the risk of cancer and UTIs.
1. May Possess Anticancer Properties
Folk medicine used pumpkin seed extracts to treat kidney, bladder, and prostate disorders for centuries. The active molecules, like cucurbitin, inhibit the rapid growth of cancer cells (3).
Experimental studies noted about 40-50% of growth inhibition in prostate, breast, and colon cancer cells. This could be due to the presence of estrogen-like molecules (phytoestrogens) in pumpkin seeds (3).
Compounds like lignans and flavones alter the expression of genes mainly involved in the prevention/management of breast and prostate cancers.
2. May Nourish And Repair Skin
Pumpkin seeds and their oil are excellent skin care agents. The bright orange pigment-producing molecules, called carotenoids, have anti-aging effects. They scavenge free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin (4).
Vitamins A and C in the seeds boost the production of collagen. Collagen helps in wound healing and keeps your skin young and wrinkle-free. The oil has omega-3 fatty acids and ß-carotene. These components are potent anti-inflammatory agents (4), (5), (6).
Using pumpkin seed oil as a topical agent can treat acne, blisters, and chronic inflammation of the skin. It also prevents bacterial and fungal infections when used as a scrub, lotion, or when massaged (4).
3. May Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases
Several animal studies demonstrate the positive effects of pumpkin seed supplementation on heart health. Subjects on a high-fat diet showed a significant decrease in the levels of total cholesterol (7).
The seeds could also lower the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) by about 79% in the subjects. The studies also report a drop in the levels of inflammatory markers like nitric oxide (7).
Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can prevent cholesterol accumulation and hardening of the blood vessels. This prevents various heart issues like coronary artery disease, stroke, etc. (7)
4. May Improve Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds have a notable protective effect on the prostate gland. The prostate is said to store minerals, like zinc. These minerals prevent issues like prostate enlargement (hyperplasia) induced by testosterone imbalance (8), (9).
As they contain useful amounts of zinc, these seeds and oil have shown to inhibit prostate enlargement. Lab trials suggest that oil-free pumpkin seeds may help manage benign prostatic hyperplasia (9), (10).
By managing hyperplasia, the male subjects would have less urine retention. This would lessen the risk of urinary tract infections (10).
5. May Treat Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
The pumpkin seed oil has been useful to treat urinary disorders, especially in men. It does so by inhibiting issues like prostate enlargement. Clinical trials have proved that this oil is well-tolerated (11).
Large doses of about 500-1000 mg/day did not trigger undesirable effects. In fact, when subjects with overactive bladder were given this dose for 6 and 12 weeks, their urinary function significantly improved (11).
6. May Promote Hair Growth
These seeds contain good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Along with other micronutrients, these fatty acids aid in improving the texture of dry and brittle hair. Zinc is another factor that boosts the production of hair proteins. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc in abundance (12).
Twenty four weeks of treatment with pumpkin seed oil increased hair growth by about 40% in men with baldness. This could happen because the seeds have active molecules called phytosterols. They inhibit the enzymes (proteins) that breakdown hair protein and cause hair fall (13), (14).
7. May Help Manage Diabetes
Pumpkin seeds exhibit active antidiabetic effects. They possess phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and saponins, that effectively control blood glucose levels. These molecules prevent the inflammation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells (14), (15).
Animal studies show that a diet rich in flax and pumpkin seeds enhances the antioxidant enzyme activity. In subjects with diabetes, these enzymes rapidly scavenge the free radicals and thus lessen the impact on the kidneys and pancreas (16).
Not just the seeds, pumpkin leaves and pulp have also been identified to possess antidiabetic properties. The fruit contains complex carbohydrates like pectin, which may help regulate your sugar levels (17).
8. May Lower Cholesterol And Risk Of Obesity
High/abnormal lipid levels are linked to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even death. Eating foods that control the metabolism, accumulation, and excretion of lipids, like cholesterol, is the easiest way to avoid such disorders.
Pumpkin seeds are rich sources of good fats, fiber, and antioxidants. Along with other plant seeds like flax and purslane, pumpkin seeds can prevent body weight gain and cholesterol accumulation in the liver (20).
The strong anti-obesity effect of these seeds is attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamin-E derivatives, and ß-carotene. Linoleic, linolenic, and oleic acids help lower blood cholesterol levels (20).
They also maintain kidney and liver functioning in obese/overweight individuals (20).
However, most of the studies have been done on rats, and the dosage for humans may vary.
To know the distribution of these phytonutrients in pumpkin seeds, check out the next section.
Nutritional Details Of Pumpkin Seeds
|Nutrient||Unit||1 cup (64 g)|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||12.42|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||34.4|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||11.8|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||0.2|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||2|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||40|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||2.349|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||3.86|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||5.66|
Now you know why health-freaks obsess over these seeds.
With all these nutrients, pumpkin seeds taste nutty and delicious. You can nibble on the roasted/toasted seeds as a guilt-free snack.
Here’s how you make them.
How To Prepare Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Snack
What You Need
- Pumpkin seeds: 2 cups
- Water: 1 liter
- Salt: 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted butter, melted: 1 tablespoon
- Mixing bowl: medium-sized
- Cookie sheet or Frying pan: medium-large
Let’s Make It!
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Prepare the pumpkin seeds. Remove any cut seeds and as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
- Add 1 liter of water and salt to a suitable vessel and bring it to a boil.
- Add the cleaned pumpkin seeds.
- Boil for 10 minutes.
- Drain the water and spread the seeds on a clean kitchen/paper towel.
- Pat the seeds dry.
- Transfer the well-dried seeds to a mixing bowl.
- Add the melted butter. Toss the seeds to coat with butter uniformly.
- Spread the coated seeds evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
- Place the pan in the preheated oven. You can also do the following steps on a stove.
- Roast the seeds for 30-40 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
- Stir about every 10 minutes while roasting.
- Cool the seeds.
- Shell the kernels off and chomp on the seeds.
- You can also store them in an airtight container or zip-lock bag for future use. The seeds can be refrigerated in this condition too.
You can also sprinkle these seeds over salads, soups, porridges, breakfast cereal, and pasta.
But, is it safe to eat these seeds every day? If it is not, what is a safe serving size?
Is It Safe To Eat Pumpkin Seeds? How Much Is Safe?
There is no scientific study demonstrating the side effects of these seeds. In rare cases, an overdose may cause constipation and bloating.
Also, not enough research has been done to establish a safe intake limit of pumpkin seeds. Though they are generally considered safe for pregnant and lactating women, there is no scientific basis to prove this.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider for information on the safety and dosage of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are natural sources of essential fatty acids, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Including them in your diet can nurture your skin and hair. They have beneficial effects on the urinary tract, prostate, and fertility issues in men.
Find out a safe dose range for you from a nutritionist/doctor. Use pumpkin seeds as a snack or garnish in your cooking. Send your queries, comments, and feedback using the section below.
Enjoy the crunch and care pumpkin seeds give you!
- Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seed and Nutrition Profile of 35 Pumpkin Accessions, EDIS, IFAS Extension, The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agriculture, University of Florida.
- Amino acid, mineral and fatty acid content of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita spp) and Cyperus esculentus nuts in the Republic of Niger, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
- Pumpkin seed extract: Cell growth inhibition of hyperplastic and cancer cells, independent of steroid hormone receptors, Fitoterapia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Properties of Pumpkin Seed Oil & Therapy of Inflammatory Facial Acne Vulgaris, International Journal of Science and Research, Academia
- Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats, Lipids in Health and Disease, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN FOR BEAUTY, American Institute of Beauty, Inc.
- The Effect of Pumpkin (Cucurbita Pepo L) Seeds and L-Arginine Supplementation on Serum Lipid Concentrations in Atherogenic Rats, African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Protect Your Prostate, Health & Wellness, Rush University Medical Center.
- Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of sprague-dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of an Oil-Free Hydroethanolic Pumpkin Seed Extract on Symptom Frequency and Severity in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Pilot Study in Humans, Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil Extracted From Cucurbita maxima Improves Urinary Disorder in Human Overactive Bladder, Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- 10 Foods That Promote Healthy Hair, Sylvain Melloul International Hair Academy.
- Hair-growth promoting activity of plant extracts of suruhan (Peperomia pellucida) in Rabbits, IOSR Journal of Pharmacy and Biological Sciences, Academia.
- A comprehensive review of the versatile pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita maxima) As A valuable natural medicine, International Journal of Current Research, Academia.
- The hypoglycemic effect of pumpkin seeds, Trigonelline (TRG), Nicotinic acid (NA), and D-Chiro-inositol (DCI) in controlling glycemic levels in diabetes mellitus, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Flax and Pumpkin seeds mixture ameliorates diabetic nephropathy in rats, Food and Chemical Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The hypoglycaemic effect of pumpkins as anti-diabetic and functional medicine, Food Research International, Academia.
- What Should I Eat for My Specific Condition?, Taking Charge of your Health & Wellness, University of Minnesota.
- Pumpkin Benefits, Get-U-Fit blog, Warhawk Fitness & Aquatics, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
- The antiatherogenic, renal protective and immunomodulatory effects of purslane, pumpkin and flax seeds on hypercholesterolemic rats, North American Journal of Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- 15 Amazing Health Benefits And Uses Of Castor Seeds (Arand Ke Beej)
- 14 Best Benefits Of Tamarind Seeds For Skin, Hair And Health
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