Pumpkin seeds are a mixed package of antioxidants – vitamin E, phytosterols and zinc – which reduce inflammation. They also support hair growth in balding men and can relieve some symptoms of menopausal women. Surprisingly, they can even lower the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Soak and dry pumpkin seeds before use to get their benefits.
In the article we will consider the questions – what nutrients include pumpkin seeds, health benefits, how to take correctly.
Nutritional Information of Pumpkin Seeds
100 grams of whole (unrefined) fried unsalted pumpkin seeds contains:
- Calorie content – 446 kcal
- Proteins – 18.55 gr.
- Fats – 19.4 gr.
- Carbohydrates – 53.75 gr.
- Fiber – 73%
- Magnesium – 65%
- Zinc – 68%
Pumpkin seeds are flat oval green seeds covered with a whitish-yellow outer shell. Inshell seed is edible and may benefit you. Pumpkin seeds have been used in folk medicine to treat diseases of the kidneys, bladder and prostate gland for centuries.
They have a pleasant taste, and therefore there is no need to convince anyone that pumpkin seeds are not only useful, but also very tasty. However, we hope that the following beneficial properties of pumpkin seeds will give you an impetus to include this product in your diet.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
1. High antioxidant content
Antioxidants protect our cells from damage by free radicals and thus inhibit inflammation. Since many diseases are associated with some form of inflammation, pumpkin seeds can be more than worthy.
Pumpkin seeds are a mixed complex of antioxidants – vitamin E, phenolic compounds, zinc. All of them work in our favor, creating a synergy effect. For example, pumpkin seed extracts can inhibit the oxidizing enzyme lipoxygenase, which only phenolic acids cannot do.
Fried pumpkin seeds contain various forms of vitamin E – alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol, which may be more beneficial for us than one form of tocopherols ( 1 ). Thus, although the alpha-tocopherol content may be sufficient, the joint supply of various forms of vitamin M makes it a more effective source of vitamin E.
2. Support heart health
Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of amino acids arginine. L-arginine prevents thickening of arteries and plaque formation, and also lowers blood pressure. These are indicators of a well-protected heart.
One hypothesis is that pumpkin seed oil generates nitric oxide, a vasodilator. By stimulating the expansion of blood vessels, this can prevent blood clots and increase blood pressure ( 2 ).
Pumpkin seeds also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, an additional threat to the heart. Since existing studies only apply to rats and postmenopausal women, more extensive studies are needed to understand how pumpkin seeds affect cholesterol levels. Perhaps this is due to the content of essential fatty acids.
3. Useful for people with diabetes.
Preliminary studies have shown that pumpkin seeds have the ability to lower blood sugar. The compounds trigonellin, nicotinic acid and D-chiroinositis in pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its glycemic control. Pumpkin seeds can thus be used as a convenient, economical tool to keep blood sugar levels under control in diabetics ( 3 ).
4. Slow down skin aging
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6, which our body needs, but which it cannot produce on its own. The more omega-6 or linoleic acid you take, the less likely your skin will dry out or be damaged by the sun. Pumpkin seeds thus have the potential to slow down the aging process.
5. Useful for hair loss.
In 7 out of 10 men, especially older than 50, androgenetic alopecia (common baldness) continues to be a large-scale aesthetic problem.
In one study, 76 men suffering from baldness took 400 mg of pumpkin seeds daily in capsule form. At the end of 6 months, hair growth increased by 30% compared with the control group.
Perhaps this is due to the action of phytosterols , the equivalent of human cholesterol in the membranes of plant cells. Phytosterols inhibit the 5α-reductase enzyme in the hair follicles.
6. Promote sleep
The benefits of pumpkin seeds are that they are a rich source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium, which improve sleep ( 4 ).
Therefore, for this purpose, you can safely take pumpkin seeds – on how to do this, consider further.
- Tryptophan: Drinking about 1 gram of tryptophan per day can help you fall asleep faster and better. To get this dose of tryptophan, you need to eat about 200 grams of pumpkin seeds daily.
- Zinc: each seed contains about 10% zinc. Zinc promotes the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin into melatonin, a sleep hormone.
- Magnesium: Magnesium plays a role in the cellular signaling pathways involved in the sleep-wake cycle. In support of this, previous studies have proven that magnesium supplements can help with insomnia. Fortunately, pumpkin seeds are also a good source of magnesium.
7. Relieve arthritis pain
Pumpkin seed oil supplements reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. Probably a powerful blend of antioxidants plays a key role here. While clinical trials are not yet complete, you can safely check to see if pumpkin seeds can relieve arthritis pain.
8. Improve sperm quality, treat prostatitis
Pumpkin seeds have tremendous benefits for men. It has been proven that pumpkin seed oil can improve sperm quality and sperm count ( 5 ).
Low concentrations of zinc in semen are associated with poor sperm quality and infertility, while the opposite is true for high concentrations of zinc. Now, knowing that pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, we can imagine a positive effect on sperm. Couples trying to get pregnant may consider increasing their consumption of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are also useful for the treatment and prevention of prostatitis in men. They relieve inflammation and simultaneously improve male reproductive functions.
9. Improve urinary tract function
- With an overactive bladder. In one study, 45 people with an overactive bladder took 45 grams of pumpkin seed oil daily for approximately 3 months. As a result, a significant improvement in urine function was observed. Pumpkin seeds, thus, show a promising effect in the treatment of overactive bladder.
- In benign hyperplasia of the prostate (BPH) and prostate: BPH – a condition in which a man having difficulty urinating due to prostate enlargement. A one-year study was conducted that required men suffering from BPH to consume 320 mg of pumpkin seed oil per day. The symptoms of BPH improved, and subjects reported better quality of life in the first quarter of the year after the experiment ( 6 ).
Pumpkin seed oil inhibits the 5-α-reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), inhibiting unregulated proliferation of prostate tissue.
10. Reduce the risks of certain types of cancer
Pumpkin seed extracts inhibit the growth of tumors of the prostate, breast, stomach, and colon.
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds can lower the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. This is most likely due to herbal chemicals called lignans in pumpkin seeds. The effect can be used in the future even for the treatment of breast cancer.
Most studies of the effect of pumpkin seeds on cancer have focused only on prostate and breast cancer. They also limit experiments to lignans, ignoring other potential key players. Therefore, there is enormous scope for future research, since the emphasis is on other types of cancer and antioxidants.
11. Eliminate intestinal parasites
Pumpkin seeds are traditionally used to treat parasitosis and expel intestinal worms. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed extracts contain compounds – cucurbitin, fatty acids, berberine and palmatine, which negatively affect parasite eggs and the mobility of adult worms.
Thus, although pumpkin seeds cannot kill intestinal worms, they can paralyze them. This keeps the worms from being fixed on the intestinal wall during bowel movements, which facilitates their evacuation from the body. This information is of great importance, as parasites continue to acquire immunity to synthetic antiparasitic drugs.
12. Reduce menopause symptoms
In addition to reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, pumpkin seed oil also reduces the severity of menopausal symptoms. Menopausal women may have less intense flushing, fewer headaches and less joint pain. This should have a positive impact on their quality of life.
13. Promote weight loss
There are no direct proven benefits of pumpkin seeds for weight loss. However, high fiber (18%) can curb hunger by helping control appetite in your weight loss program. Nutritional reserves also guarantee that your body will be in shape to exercise and survive intense workouts.
How to eat pumpkin seeds
The benefits of pumpkin seeds are also that this product is readily available to most people. No known or reported side effects have been identified for them. However, if you take pumpkin seeds as an additive, use caution. And do not use them with medicines that lower blood sugar.
So, before you eat pumpkin seeds in food, you should soak them in acidified water .
- Pour raw uncooked pumpkin seeds with water so that the water completely covers them.
- Add some lemon juice or vinegar.
- Leave for 6-8 hours.
- Then you need to rinse pumpkin seeds under running water and put to dry on a paper towel. You can also dry the seeds in the oven.
It is better to store pumpkin seeds after soaking and drying in the refrigerator. You need to use them for months.
Please note that pumpkin seeds can be eaten with the shell. The endosperm, located directly under the shell of the pumpkin seed and sticking to it, contains a large amount of zinc. Although the shell does not contain a significant amount of zinc, it is best to eat unrefined seeds to produce the mineral. Often when removing the shell, the zinc-containing endosperm is also removed.
Do not salt. Although there are no strict rules that you should not salt pumpkin seeds, it is best to avoid this action.
Sauté them. Like all nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds also contain antinutrients that affect the bioavailability of nutrients. Soaking helps remove some of the antinutrients. Roasting may also help.
- Heat dried, raw, unpeeled pumpkin seeds in the oven to increase the bioavailability of antioxidants.
- Fry them for no more than 15–20 minutes. After 20 minutes, undesirable changes in the fat content in pumpkin seeds occur.
Alternatively, you can soak or sprout the seeds before use to make sure that your body can produce most of the nutrients.
Add them to your dishes: if you do not want to eat pumpkin seeds in their pure form, sprinkle them with salad, soup or mix them with smoothies. So you will get a lot of benefits anyway.
To take pumpkin seeds as a medicine, you need to eat them between meals.
The recommended amount – how much you can eat per day – is 30 grams. At this dosage, pumpkin seeds can be consumed on an ongoing basis.
Since pumpkin seed extracts are used in most experiments with pumpkin seeds, you may be wondering if the oil is more effective than the seeds themselves. Pumpkin seeds are almost 50% oil, so they can provide you with all of the above benefits, just like butter.