Pumpkin seeds are a fall favorite, but don’t let that stop you from consuming them year-round. They are rich in fiber, vitamin E, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium. They also provide you with plant-based sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds earn their place in the world of superfoods, thanks to the potential benefit to both your physical and mental health.
Not to mention, they tasty and convenient, too. Pumpkin seeds have an excellent flavor profile and are an easy way to add a nutrient boost to snacks and meals. Add them as a garnish to soups, salads, sauces and grain dishes, keep a baggie in your gym bag or purse for a quick snack on the go, and incorporate them into quick and easy recipes, such as pesto, nut butter and smoothies.
Pumpkin seed nutrition facts
One ounce (a little less than ¼ cup) of pumpkin seeds has:
- 163 Calories
- 8.5 grams protein
- 4.2 grams carbohydrates
- 1.8 grams fiber
- 14 grams fat
- 156 milligrams magnesium (37% daily value)
- 14.7 milligrams calcium
- 2 grams zinc
Health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seed consumption has been linked to better metabolic health (assessing indicators such as blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol management). A 2018 study found that pumpkin seed consumption helped manage blood sugar after meals. The fiber content in pumpkin seeds may also contribute to their anti-diabetic impact. A 2019 animal study found that pumpkin pulp and seeds helped reduce blood pressure by as much as 20%. Finally, several studies have linked pumpkin seeds (and their oil) to improvements in cardiovascular health.
Pumpkin seeds may help improve liver health as well. A 2015 study found that replacing saturated fats with healthy fats in pumpkin seeds could help reduce risks associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, including atherosclerosis development. The study also found that the anti-inflammatory effect of pumpkin seed oil provided further benefits.
With their abundant antioxidants and other bioactive compounds, pumpkin seed consumption may also play a role in reducing several cancers. A 2012 study in German women found that increased pumpkin seed consumption could reduce breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women. Some benefits in the study were derived from the phytoestrogens found in pumpkin seeds. Animal studies utilizing pumpkin seeds have also found benefits in lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Pumpkin seeds may be a perfect dietary choice for men as multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of pumpkin seed consumption and prostate health. A 2016 study found that pumpkin seed oil may play a role in inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer cells. Another study found that pumpkin seed oil was a safe and effective complementary and alternative medicine treatment for men with enlarged prostates without cancer. Pumpkin seeds may help with hair growth as well. A 2014 randomized controlled trial found that men who consumed 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily for 24 weeks saw improvements in hair growth.
Studies also show that pumpkin seeds (and their oil) may benefit overactive bladder and may also reduce insomnia due to the seeds’ tryptophan content.
Finally, pumpkin seeds’ soluble fiber and magnesium content may contribute to better gut health.
In addition to physical benefits, pumpkin seeds may contribute to mental health benefits as well. According to studies, their nutrient profile (high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium) may serve as a dietary consideration (alongside other therapies) for individuals at risk or suffering from depression, anxiety or stress.
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Side effects of eating pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, so individuals not used to fiber in their diet or who cannot tolerate fiber due to a physical condition may experience gastrointestinal distress such as bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms may also occur if you consume too many pumpkin seeds at once.
Fun facts about pumpkin seeds
- Pumpkins are considered fruits, not vegetables; all pumpkin parts (right down to the skin) are edible.
- Pumpkin seeds can be found in modern grocery stores nationwide, but they’ve been utilized for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. For example, records indicate that pumpkins seeds were listed as an antiparasitic in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1863 to 1936 due to their use as a way to expel parasites from the gastrointestinal tract. Other historical uses include sexual health, wound healing, and general anti-inflammatory benefits. Some sources claim that pumpkin seeds are one of the first crops to be grown in the Western Hemisphere alongside corn.
- Adding heat will help you get the most bang for your pumpkin seed nutritional buck! A 2021 study found that roasting pumpkin seeds increased the antioxidant content.
How to eat pumpkin seeds
From seasonal desserts to on-the-go snacks, pumpkin seeds play many roles in the culinary world. Roasted pumpkin seeds are simple to make and can be jazzed up with lots of different spice combinations. Here are some other tasty pumpkin seed recipes to try:
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