Pumpkin seeds can be rather small, but they are also packed full of valuable nutrients.
Consuming only a small amount of them can indeed provide one with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium as well as zinc.
On account of this, pumpkin seeds do have several health benefits.
These do include improved heart health, prostate health as well as protection against certain cancers.
What’s more, these seeds can be easily incorporated into one’s diet.
1. Full of Valuable Nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of a pumpkin. They are also known as “pepita” — a Mexican Spanish term.
Unlike the hard white seeds from a carved pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds have indeed been bought from the supermarket that does not have a shell.
These shell-free seeds are flat and oval in shape, and also have a green color.
1-oz (28-gram) serving contains:
• Fiber: 1.7 grams.
• Carbs: 5 grams.
• Protein: 7 grams.
• Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s).
• Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI.
• Phosphorous: 33% of the RDI.
• Manganese: 42% of the RDI.
• Magnesium: 37% of the RDI.
• Iron: 23% of the RDI.
• Zinc: 14% of the RDI.
• Copper: 19% of the RDI.
They also do contain lots of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate.
Pumpkin seeds and seed oil also do contain many other nutrients that do show health benefits.
Pumpkin seeds are no doubt rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 151 calories.
2. High in Antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E.
Antioxidants can also reduce inflammation and also protect one’s cells from harmful free radicals. Because of this, consuming foods rich in antioxidants can indeed help protect against many different diseases.
Pumpkin seeds do contain lots of antioxidants that help protect one against disease as well as reduce inflammation.
3. Linked to a reduced level of risk of certain cancers
Diets that are indeed rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower levels of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers.
A large observational study found that eating them was associated with a rather reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Others studies suggest that the lignans in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Pumpkin seeds had the potential to slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Some evidence does suggest that pumpkin seeds do help to prevent certain cancers.
4. Improve Prostate and Bladder Health
Pumpkin seeds can help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition where the prostate gland enlarges and can also cause problems with urination.
Several studies in humans have indeed found that eating these seeds does reduce symptoms that are rather associated with BPH.
Research does suggest that taking pumpkin seeds or their products as supplements that can help treat symptoms of an overactive bladder.
One study found that taking a supplement of 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily does improve urinary function in 45 men and women with overactive bladders.
Pumpkin seeds doe reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.
5. Very High in Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds are considered to be one of the best natural sources of magnesium. This is important since magnesium deficiency is very common in many Western countries.
Magnesium is necessary for more than 600 chemical reactions in the body. Adequate levels of magnesium are important for:
• Controlling blood pressure.
• Reducing heart disease risk.
• Forming as well as maintaining healthy bones.
• Regulating blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are acknowledged as the rich source of magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for one’s blood pressure, heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels.
6. May Improve Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc as well as fatty acids, all of which may help keep one’s heart healthy.
Animal studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil can also help reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
These are two important risk factors for heart disease.
A study involving 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements does reduce diastolic blood pressure by 7% and increases the “good” HDL cholesterol by 16% over a 12-week period.
Other studies suggest that it may be the nitric oxide enzymes that are contained in pumpkin seed oil that are actually responsible for its positive effects on one’s heart health.
Nitric oxide does help expand blood vessels and improves blood flow and reduces the risk of plaque growth in the arteries.
Nutrients in pumpkin seeds can indeed help keep one’s heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and also increasing good cholesterol.
7. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Animal studies have rather shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder as well as pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar.
This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
Several studies have found that supplementing the diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder does reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds can be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.
An observational study involving over 127,000 men and women found that diets rich in magnesium have been associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34% lower risk in women.
More research is required to confirm this beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds can help reduce blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. However, more research is required.
8. Very High in Fiber
Pumpkin seeds are accepted as the good source of dietary fiber. Whole seeds do provide 5.2 grams of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-gram) serving.
However, pumpkin kernels with the shell removed contain 1.7 grams of fiber per ounce. These are the green pumpkin seeds that are available in most supermarkets.
A diet high in fiber can also promote good digestive health.
Also, high-fiber diets have been rather associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Whole pumpkin seeds are of course an excellent source of fiber. Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes as well as obesity.
9. May Also Improve Sperm Quality
Low zinc levels are indeed associated with reduced sperm quality as well as an increased risk of infertility in men.
Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may also help improve sperm quality.
Evidence from one study in mice does suggest that they may also help protect human sperm from damage causing by chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases.
Pumpkin seeds are also quite high in antioxidants as well as other nutrients that can also contribute to healthy testosterone levels and also improve overall health.
Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in men.
The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds can help improve sperm quality and fertility in men.
10. May Help Improve Sleep
If one has trouble sleeping, one may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before going to bed. They are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps promote sleep.
Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is thought to help improve sleep.
However, one needs to eat around 7 oz (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds in order to get the necessary 1 gram of tryptophan.
The zinc in these seeds does also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that does regulate one’s sleep cycle.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also in fact been associated with better sleep.
Pumpkin seeds are no doubt a good source of tryptophan, zinc, and magnesium, all of which do help in promoting good sleep.
11. Easy to Add to Your Diet
If one would like to experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they are easy to incorporate into one’s diet.
In several countries, they are a popular snack that can also be eaten raw or roasted, salted or unsalted.
As well as eating them alone, one can add them to smoothies or to Greek yogurt as well as fruit.
One can add pumpkin seeds to meals by sprinkling them into salads, soups or cereals. Some people use pumpkin seeds in baking, as an ingredient for sweet or savory bread as well as cakes.
However, as with many seeds and nuts, they do contain phytic acid, which can also reduce the bioavailability of some nutrients one eats.
If one eat seeds and nuts regularly, and one may want to soak or sprout them to reduce the phytic acid content. Roasting them can also help.
Pumpkin seeds can also be easily incorporated into the diet as a snack or as an additional ingredient in meals or baking.
Do Pumpkin Seeds Have Any Other Benefits?
The rich nutrient content of pumpkin seeds does mean they may provide many other health benefits, such as improved energy, mood as well as immune function.
Eating them can also help solve dietary deficiencies and may protect against various health problems.