Healthy food

Top 11 Science-Based Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and may be associated with health benefits, including improved fertility, better heart health, and enhanced blood sugar control.

Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they’re packed full of valuable nutrients.

Eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium, and zinc.

Because of this, pumpkin seeds have been associated with several health benefits, including improved heart health, prostate health, and protection against certain cancers.

What’s more, these seeds can be easily incorporated into your diet.

Here are the top 11 health benefits of pumpkin seeds that are supported by science.

Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas,” 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.

1 ounce (oz), or 28 grams (g), of shell-free pumpkin seeds has roughly 160 calories, which are mainly from fat and protein (1).

In addition, a 1-oz (28-g) serving contains the following nutrients (1):

  • Carbs: 3 g
  • Protein: 8.6 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Fiber: 1.7 g
  • Manganese: 56% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 42% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 40% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the DV
  • Zinc: 20% of the DV
  • Iron: 14% of the DV

In addition to the nutrients listed above, pumpkin seeds also contain some antioxidants and small amounts of potassium, riboflavin, and folate (1).

summary

Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, and many other nutrients. 1 oz (28 g) contains about 160 calories.

Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids. They also contain small amounts of vitamin E and carotenoids (2).

Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. For this reason, consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help protect against many diseases (3).

It’s thought that the high levels of antioxidants in pumpkins seeds are partly responsible for their positive effects on health.

In one older study, pumpkin seed oil reduced inflammation in rats with arthritis without side effects, whereas animals given an anti-inflammatory drug experienced adverse effects (4).

summary

Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.

Some research suggests that pumpkin seeds may contain plant compounds that could help protect against cancer growth (5).

In fact, a 2012 observational study found that eating pumpkin seeds was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (6).

Other older studies suggest that the lignans in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in preventing and treating breast cancer (7).

Furthermore, one test-tube study found that pumpkin seed extract had the potential to slow down the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells (8).

summary

Some evidence suggests that pumpkin seeds may help prevent certain types of cancer.

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 (9, 10).

In a 2021 study, pumpkin seed oil consumption was able to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in 73 people with BPH. Additionally, though pumpkin seed oil was not as effective as a prescription medication, it was associated with fewer negative side effects (11).

Further research suggests that taking pumpkin seeds or their products as supplements can help treat symptoms of an overactive bladder.

One older study in 45 people with overactive bladders found that taking 10 g of pumpkin seed oil extract daily improved urinary function (12).

summary

Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.

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 United States, around 48% of adults have a magnesium intake below the recommended daily amount (13).

Magnesium is needed for more than 600 chemical reactions in your body. Adequate levels of magnesium are also important for (14, 15, 16, 17, 18):

  • controlling blood pressure
  • reducing heart disease risk
  • forming and maintaining healthy bones
  • regulating blood sugar levels

summary

Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium. Healthy magnesium levels are important for your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as heart and bone health.

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, and unsaturated fats, all of which may help keep your heart healthy (1).

Human and animal studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two important risk factors for heart disease (19, 20).

One older, 12-week study in 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7% and increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels by 16% (21).

Other research suggests that pumpkins’ ability to increase nitric oxide generation in your body may be responsible for its positive effects on heart health (5).

Nitric oxide helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in your arteries (22).

summary

Nutrients in pumpkin seeds may help keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol.

Some older animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder, and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar (23, 24).

One study in healthy adults found that those who consumed meals containing 65 g (about 2 oz) of pumpkin seeds had lower blood sugar levels after a high carb meal (25).

Interestingly, the high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.

One large observational study found that people who consumed the highest amount of magnesium had a 15% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed the lowest amount over a 28-year period (26).

Still, more research is needed to confirm these beneficial effects of pumpkin seeds on blood sugar levels.

summary

Pumpkin seeds may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed.

Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber. In fact, shelled seeds provide 1.7 g of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-g) serving (1).

A diet high in fiber can promote good digestive health (27).

In addition, high fiber diets have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (28).

summary

Whole pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber. Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in males (29).

Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may improve sperm quality.

Interestingly, evidence from one animal study found that supplementing with pumpkin seed oil and vitamin E improved sperm quality and reproductive performance in roosters (30).

Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health (31).

Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in males.

summary

The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds may help improve sperm quality and male fertility.

If you have trouble 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 (32).

According to a 2014 study, consuming at least 1 g of tryptophan daily is thought to improve sleep (33).

However, note that you would need to eat around 6 oz (170 g) of pumpkin seeds to achieve the needed amount of tryptophan (1).

Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep, according to some observational studies (34).

Some studies have found that taking a magnesium supplement could improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep in older adults with insomnia (35, 36).

However, more research is needed.

summary

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan and magnesium, both of which help promote good sleep.

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 that can be eaten either raw or roasted and salted or unsalted.

Besides eating them on their own, you can add them to smoothies, Greek yogurt, and fruit bowls.

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, which can reduce the bioavailability of some nutrients you eat (37).

If you eat seeds and nuts regularly, you may want to soak or sprout them to reduce their phytic acid content (37).

summary

Pumpkin seeds can be easily incorporated into your diet as a snack or ingredient in meals or baking.

Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and packed with powerful antioxidants.

Eating them can help solve dietary deficiencies and may protect against various health problems.

In fact, pumpkin seeds have been shown to improve heart health, blood sugar levels, fertility, and sleep quality. They may even protect against certain types of cancer.

In addition, their rich nutrient content may provide other health benefits, such as improved energy, mood, and immune function.

What’s best, they can easily be added to your diet, allowing you to reap their many positive effects.


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