Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they are full of flavor and packed with nutrients. Also known as pepita seeds, a very tiny amount can provide you with tons of magnesium, zinc, and healthy fat. These seeds appear green, flat, and oval in appearance. Without the hull, they are lower in carbohydrates and fiber.
Pumpkin seeds are delicious and eaten in a variety of different ways. You can eat them raw or as a substitute for pine nuts in pesto, just to name a couple. They can easily be incorporated into your diet providing a wide range of incredible health benefits.
Vitamins and Antioxidants in Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants, including vitamin B2 and folate, an essential folic acid. Antioxidants protect cells within the body from free radicals and inflammation. In one study, pumpkin seed oil helped reduce inflammation in arthritic rats without any adverse symptoms. Pumpkin seeds also contain substantial amounts of zinc, iron, protein, and fiber.
Pumpkin seeds are also one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Magnesium is often lacking in many Western diets. In the United States, 79% of adults lack the recommended amount needed for their diets. Magnesium comes with an incredible list of benefits. It is excellent for controlling blood pressure. Magnesium can also help reduce heart disease and regulate healthy blood sugar levels.
There are 2.9 milligrams of zinc in each ounce of roasted, unshelled pumpkin seeds. Adult men need 11 mg of zinc daily, and adult women need 8 mg of the mineral per day. Pumpkin seeds can be a delicious way to meet those needs.
Zinc provides structure to cellular membranes, supports the integrity of the skin, and plays a vital role in gene expression. Getting enough zinc can help people heal from a cold sooner and may also prevent vision loss in patients with age-related vision problems.
Protein in Pumpkin Seeds
Protein is an important nutrient for any healthy body. It is the building block of every tissue and organ in the body. It’s particularly important for building and maintaining healthy muscles. Protein can also help the body repair itself after injury. This is crucial, especially for active people and athletes. When you have a balance of healthy exercise and good protein intake, it’s incredibly beneficial for the body.
Unfortunately, the weakening of muscles is a common consequence of aging. Eating more protein can reduce the deterioration of muscles in aging and prevent sarcopenia, and age-related muscle loss. This, in turn, can reduce the possibility of injuries that can reduce the quality of life.
Fiber in Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are also full of dietary fiber. A small, one-ounce serving contains 1.1 grams of fiber. Fiber is fantastic for the body for so many reasons. Some studies have shown that increasing dietary fiber promotes weight loss by reducing calorie intake automatically. When eating a high-carb diet, fiber does the job of reducing the likelihood that your blood sugar rises to dangerous levels. On top of this long list of benefits, fiber also keeps your system regular by reducing constipation.
Pumpkin Seeds Linked to a Reduced Rate of Cancer
According to research, eating a diet that contains large amounts of pumpkin seeds can reduce the risk for certain kinds of cancers. Those cancers include breast, stomach, lung, prostate, and colon cancers. Another observational study found that postmenopausal women who ate pumpkin seeds had a reduced risk of breast cancer. Researchers looking further into breast cancer research hypothesized that the lignans in pumpkin seeds could both prevent and treat breast cancer. Finally, test-tube studies showed a supplement containing pumpkin seeds could slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
With cancer taking more and more lives each year, it’s important to take advantage of simple ways that reduce our risk.
Improve Prostate and Bladder Health
Eating pumpkin seeds may help relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a condition that enlarges the prostate gland. This condition causes many problems with urination. Studies have suggested that adding pumpkin seeds to a diet can help reduce the symptoms of BPH. In one particular year-round study with 1,400 men, pumpkin seeds helped reduce symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Another study that was done earlier found that pumpkin seed oil can block particular types of prostate growth. The study looked at rats induced with testosterone and the alpha-blocker drug Prazosin. Testosterone might help in the development of BPH. However, it’s not completely clear why.
Some scientists think that dihydrotestosterone builds up in the prostate and cause it to grow. Dihydrotestosterone is a potent metabolite of testosterone. The phytochemicals in pumpkin seeds may reduce the effects of dihydrotestosterone on the prostate. They could also help reduce the rate of conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
Other research suggests that pumpkin seeds can aid with the symptoms of an overactive bladder. One study gave 45 men and women with an overactive bladder, 10 grams of pumpkin seed daily. Those individuals saw improved urinary function in the 12 weeks it was administered.
Good for Post-Menopausal Women
Estrogen levels drop significantly after menopause. This process leads to hot flashes, headaches, mood swings, and other menopausal symptoms. A class of naturally occurring compounds known as phytoestrogens mimics the effects of estrogens in the brain and body. As a result, they may reduce the risk of menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and hormone-dependent cancers. Cancers like this include breast cancer.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of phytoestrogens. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can support increased levels of HDL. They may also decrease diastolic blood pressure and reduce overall symptoms of menopause. Also, consuming pumpkin seeds is shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes, headaches, and joint pains. Although more research should be done, getting plenty of phytoestrogens from pumpkin seeds may improve your postmenopausal health.
Eye and Skin Health
Pumpkins are an excellent source of squalene. Squalene plays a pivotal role in protecting the skin from UV and other types of radiation from the sun. It is very similar to beta-carotene, an antioxidant found in foods like carrots.
Studies done in animals have shown that pumpkin seed oil can have benefits for the heart. In the study, pumpkin seed oil reduced blood pressure and cholesterol. Both of these factors put individuals in danger of heart disease, which is a common killer in the US.
Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. These are called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Just a bit of ALA gets converted into the critical DHA and EPA omega-3s, which are in fish such as salmon. It can be difficult to get all the omega-3s you need in a day, but a delicious handful of pumpkin seeds can help.
In another 12-week study, 35 postmenopausal women were given pumpkin seed oil supplements. It was found that the supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7%. Diastolic blood pressure is the number at the bottom of the reading. The supplements also increased “good” HDL cholesterol by 16%.
Pumpkin seeds could increase nitric oxide throughout the body, therefore increasing further heart health. This is because nitric oxide assists in expanding blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and reducing plaque in the arteries.
Lower Blood Sugar
Studies in animals have found that pumpkin seeds, powder, and juice can reduce blood sugar. These findings could be especially crucial to those who struggle to control their blood sugar levels, like diabetics. Several studies have confirmed that pumpkin juice or seed powder may help reduce blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a common illness many suffer from and have difficulty controlling. Natural solutions like consuming pumpkin seeds are wonderful for the diabetic community.
The high magnesium content in pumpkin seeds could be responsible for their remarkable impact on high blood sugar. In an observational study, diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33% reduced risk of diabetes in men. These results came from 127,000 individuals observed. In women, the results were a 34% reduced risk of diabetes. However, more research is needed to expand on these views.
Pumpkin seeds can also help reduce and stabilize your blood glucose. Flax and pumpkin seeds were shown in studies to lower blood glucose in rats with diabetes down to a healthy range. They could aid in weight loss and could also be beneficial for people with various types of diabetes or prediabetes.
In men, low fertility levels can be associated with low zinc levels. This is because low zinc levels damage sperm quality. As pumpkin seeds contain high levels of zinc, they might help to solve this problem.
In one study, researchers examined mice to look at how chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases could damage men’s sperm. The study found that pumpkin seeds could help protect sperm should men experience these issues. Having healthy sperm is a very important part of reproduction. Any measures taken to protect sperm are important to take when trying to conceive.
Fertility is an important part of health for many individuals. Pumpkin seeds could help people maintain their ability to reproduce both now and in the future.
If you are looking to grab some serious shut-eye, consider eating pumpkin seeds beforehand. Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that can help you sleep. Researchers estimate that consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan every day will help improve your sleep.
To eat all of your daily recommended tryptophan, you need to eat 7 ounces of pumpkin seeds. The zinc in pumpkin seeds converts tryptophan to serotonin. Then, that serotonin is converted into melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating your sleep cycle and sending you into dreamland.
Remember the benefits of magnesium we mentioned before? Since pumpkin seeds are full of it, we can say here that magnesium contributes to better sleep. Smaller studies have suggested that a magnesium supplement before bed could improve sleep for people with low magnesium levels. But why take a supplement when you could have a delicious snack of pumpkin seeds instead?
Pumpkin seeds are high in fat. Due to this, they are prone to becoming rancid. To prevent this, keep the seeds in a cool, dry, dark storage spot. This will help extend the shelf life of these delicious, healthy seeds. In fact, if stored properly, pumpkin seeds will keep for 3-4 months.
If you regularly consume pumpkin seeds, you may want to consider soaking them. This process reduces the pumpkin seeds’ phytic acid. Phytic acid impairs the mineral absorption of critical vitamins like iron, zinc, and calcium. It may also promote deficiencies in minerals and reduce the overall nutrition in foods you eat. Roasting the seeds can also help reduce the amount of phytic acid as well.
Add Pumpkin Seeds to Your Diet
To experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, add them to your diet. They are simple to incorporate into a healthy part of a balanced meal plan. Throughout the world, many cultures eat them raw, roasted, salted, or unsalted, so take your pick!
Add them to a smoothie to get a dose of protein into your morning or post-workout routine. Pumpkin seeds also add a nice “crunch” on top of Greek yogurt with fruit. For lunch, toss them onto a salad alongside a homemade vinaigrette, or on top of delicious pumpkin soup. Some people like to use pumpkin seeds when baking sweet or savory creations.
Pumpkin seeds are absolutely fantastic for your overall health and wellness. Consumption of them may help your body ward off various health problems. The seeds may also protect you from dietary deficiencies. When taste and wellness combine seamlessly, it’s always a win in our book.