Pumpkin seeds might seem like a new health fad, but they have been eaten and enjoyed as early as 7,500 years ago. A favourite amongst the early Mexicans of Oaxaca, they are consumed raw or roasted.
With each ounce containing a high amount of fibre, magnesium, and protein, pumpkin seeds continue to be delicious treatments for bladder problems, hypertension – even high blood sugar.
Pumpkin Seeds: Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin seeds’ benefits are made possible by these nutrients:
- Calories: 126
- Carbohydrates: 15 grams (5% RDA)
- Protein: 5 grams (10% RDA)
- Total Fat: 5 grams (7% RDA)
- Dietary fibre: 5 grams (20% RDA)
- Potassium: 261 mg (7% RDA)
- Magnesium: 18% RDA
- Iron: 4% RDA
- Calcium: 1% RDA
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
There are many benefits of eating pumpkin seeds. Apart from being nutritious and filling, they may help you achieve better health since they may:
1. Reduce Inflammation
Pumpkin seeds, which are characteristically green, flat, and oval. According to a study, they’re teeming with antioxidants – substances that are known to neutralize free radicals in the body. These are the by-products of increased exposure to UV rays, air pollutants, cigarette smoke, and industrial chemicals, among many others.
If left unchecked, free radicals can damage the cells – thus prodding the body to release inflammatory chemicals. As expected, this causes inflammation, which in the long run may affect the joints, bladder, bowel, and liver.
Apart from being rich in inflammation-busting antioxidants, pumpkin seeds also contain a great deal of fibre. Likewise, they help these antioxidants in their fight against free radicals.
2. Improve Heart Health
The many benefits of eating pumpkin seeds for the heart are attributed to their high magnesium content. This mineral is known to help lower blood pressure. Hypertension, after all, is a major factor behind the development of heart disease and stroke.
While pumpkin seeds are ideal for everyone, they’re especially good for those who have these risk factors for hypertension:
- Old age
- Female gender
- African lineage
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Regular consumption of unhealthy food
- Physical inactivity
- Alcohol intake
- Tobacco use
As mentioned, pumpkin seeds contain plenty of antioxidants. Apart from fighting free radicals, they help increase nitric oxide levels in the body. This substance is vital as it helps keep the blood vessels smooth and flexible. With healthy vessels, continuous blood flow is assured – an essential factor for keeping the heart and circulatory system disease-free.
A rat study has also shown that pumpkin seeds can help reduce cholesterol levels, thus reducing the chances of plaque build-up around the arteries.
3. Lower Diabetes Risk
According to a study, another one of pumpkin seeds’ benefits is their ability to lower diabetes risk. They make this possible with the high magnesium content, which helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. By consuming magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds, you may keep your blood sugar levels at normal levels. This helps cut the risk of developing diabetes, especially in people who have the following risk factors:
- Aged 45 years old and above
- African/American, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native/Indian lineage
- Parents or siblings with type 2 diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
4. Fight Cancer Cells
Pumpkin seeds, in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments, may help curb the growth of certain cancer cells. It is particularly effective against several malignancies, including:
- Breast cancer, which accounts for 15% of all cases, making it the most common in the UK
- Prostate cancer, which affects 1 out 8 men in the UK
- Colorectal/bowel cancer, which is the 4th most common malignancy in the UK
According to a study, they do so by inducing cancer cell death – a process known as apoptosis. In fact, results show that pumpkin seed oil may inhibit the cell growth of the above-mentioned cancers by as much as 40-50%. Experts believe this action to be caused by the pumpkin seeds’ high antioxidant content.
5. Improve Prostate Function and Sperm Quality
There are many pumpkin seed benefits for men. For one, it may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), wherein the prostate enlarges and affects urination. It affects roughly 20% to 62% of men above 50.
A study has shown that pumpkin seeds (in the form of oil) help reduce prostate size and improve urine flow faster than the more popular saw palmetto. With these effects, pumpkin seeds managed to enhance the respondents’ quality of life as well.
Another worthwhile consideration for men is the pumpkin seed benefits for sperm quality. This is attributed to its high zinc content, with research showing the correlation between low zinc levels and poor sperm quality. If left unmanaged, this may eventually lead to male infertility.
Other than zinc, pumpkin seeds’ high antioxidant content may assist with sperm health as well. They do so by boosting the man’s testosterone levels – which work together with follicle-stimulating hormone to produce healthy sperm.
6. Prevent an Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder (OAB) – which is hallmarked by frequent urination even at night time – can greatly affect one’s quality of life. As such, it’s important to manage such symptoms.
One of the proven-effective natural ways of doing so is by using pumpkin seed oil. According to a study, consumption of 10 grams of oil per day may help reduce symptoms in as early as 6-12 weeks.
7. Reduce Hair Loss
As an all-around health food, pumpkin seed benefits the hair as well. As such, they may be instrumental for treating alopecia or pattern-baldness, which affects roughly 15 per 100,000 men in the UK.
Androgenetic alopecia is caused by an increase of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. These hormones work by binding to the hair follicles and shrinking them. They also hamper the growth cycle, which eventually leads to the production of thinner, more brittle hair.
Pumpkin seed oil may counteract this by blocking 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts the testosterone in the body to a more potent DHT. Proving this is a study that made use of 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily for 24 weeks. Results show that it improves hair growth rate by as much as 40% (compared to placebo.)
8. Induce Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are good for you, especially if you suffer from insomnia or other sleeping problems. That’s because they’re rich in tryptophan, which, according to a study, is an amino acid that promotes sleep.
Pumpkin seeds also contain selenium, copper, and zinc – minerals that improve sleep quality and length. There’s also magnesium, which helps decrease stress and anxiety – both of which contribute to insomnia.
9. Promote Weight Management
Overeating and unhealthy snacking are just some of the many reasons why people gain a lot of weight. Fortunately, pumpkin seeds may help address these 2 issues.
For one, pumpkin seeds may help curb overeating because they’re high in dietary fibre. According to a study, this substance can make you feel full faster – even if you only consume a small portion.
Pumpkin seeds are also healthier snacking options compared to fatty chips and fast food. That’s because they’re rich in many nutrients, including the filling fibre that was just mentioned. The only caveat though is that they’re high in calories, so you need to keep your pumpkin seed snacking in control.
How to Prepare Pumpkin Seeds for Eating
If you want to go straight from the source, you can always get your seeds from a fresh pumpkin.
To do so, remove the seeds with the use of a large spoon or an ice cream scoop.
Remove any attached pulp by wiping the seeds. Another option is to place the seeds on a colander where you can rinse them.
Dry the seeds by placing them on top of a paper towel or paper bag. For best results, leave them to dry overnight.
If you don’t want raw pumpkin seeds, you can always roast them. You can also add more flavour by tossing them in olive oil and Himalayan salt. You can also use garlic and other roasted pumpkin seed seasonings that you love.
After tossing your seeds, spread them on a cookie sheet. Bake them at 77C/170F for 20 minutes. Remember to toss the seeds every 5 minutes so that they will brown evenly.
If you don’t have an oven, then you need to know how to roast pumpkin seeds in a pan. For this, you are going to need a large, heavy-bottomed, dry skillet pan. Place the seeds on this pan, shaking and stirring them along the way to prevent burning. You know the seeds are ready when they become aromatic – and when some start to pop open.
How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds
You can eat pumpkin seeds raw, roasted, or hulled.
It is important to note that shelled seeds can be quite hard to chew, so those with swallowing issues should stick with the hulled varieties.
Apart from being healthy snacks, these healthy sources may also be used to create pumpkin seed recipes. You can use them as soup or salad garnishes, or as the focal ingredient in granola bars and other baked goods.
How Much Pumpkin Seeds Should I Eat Per Day?
Since pumpkin seeds are high in calories, fat, and fibre, it’s important to keep your daily portions at one cup a day.
Avoid eating more than the recommended amount to prevent the side effects of pumpkin seeds. For one, excess fibre content can cause gas, bloating, and constipation. The additional calories, on the other hand, may lead to unanticipated weight gain.
Healthy Pumpkin Seed Recipes
As mentioned, pumpkin seeds go beyond mere snacking. They are great ingredients to use in several delicious pumpkin seed recipes, such as:
1. Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Be warm – and satisfied – with this hearty pumpkin seed recipe.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 peeled and chopped large onion
- 5 peeled and chopped garlic cloves
- 1 seeded and chopped jalapeño
- 1 ½ tbsps. ground cumin
- 1 ½ tbsps. Dried oregano
- 1 ½ tsps. Himalayan salt
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- 29 ounces pumpkin purée
- 15 ounces drained white beans
- 2 tbsps. Apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsps. Honey
- ½ cup pepitas
- Cayenne pepper
- Additional salt to season the pepitas
- Sauté the oil, garlic, onion, and jalapeño over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cumin, oregano, and salt. Stir for another 2 minutes.
- Throw in the stock, pumpkin, and beans. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the honey and vinegar and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
- purée the soup in an immersion blender until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Place the pepitas on top of the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper and toast for 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top of the soup and serve.
2. Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pumpkin Seeds
This delicious and filling fare is not only vegan, but it’s also free of gluten, dairy, and wheat.
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsps. Extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- ½ tsps. ground black pepper
- 2 tbsps. Maple syrup
- ¼ cup raw green pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Peel off yellow/wilted leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Cut pieces that measure larger than a walnut.
- Place the vegetables on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Toss the pan to coat the veggies.
- Roast the Brussels sprouts for 25 minutes or until brown and tender.
- Drizzle the veggies with maple syrup and top with pumpkin seeds. Toss the mixture again to coat the seeds.
- Roast the Brussels sprouts for another 5 minutes or until the pumpkin seeds are toasted.
3. Vegan Pumpkin Loaf
Enjoy bread without the guilt with this healthy pumpkin seed recipe.
- ¾ cup canned pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup creamy nut butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 flax egg
- 1 ¼ cup of oat or almond flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsps. baking powder
- Pumpkin seeds for garnishing
- Mix the pumpkin, butter, flax egg, maple syrup, and oil in a large bowl.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and other spices in another bowl.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
- Transfer the batter into a greased loaf pan. Top with pumpkin seeds.
- Bake at 375F for 40-45 minutes.
4. Wild Rice with Pumpkin Seeds
Enjoy a mix of soft and crunchy textures with this healthy pumpkin seed recipe.
- 1 cup rinsed wild rice
- 4 chopped garlic cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cups rinsed long-grain brown rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
- ¾ cup peeled & shredded carrots
- 2 cups roasted pumpkin seeds
- Combined wild rice and water in a saucepan. Boil on high, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- At the same time, do this for the brown rice as well until it is tender.
- In another saucepan, cook garlic in oil for 2 minutes. Add the brown rice and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and boil on high.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for another 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat. Leave it covered for 5 minutes before fluffing the rice with a fork.
- Mix the wild rice with brown rice, carrots, and pumpkin seeds.
5. Pumpkin Seed Guacamole
While guac is often eaten with chips, you can go for healthier snacking by pairing it with vegetables instead. You can even make it tastier by adding pumpkin seeds – which you’ll see in this unique recipe.
- 3 large avocados without pits and skins
- ¼ finely chopped small onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 finely chopped small jalapeño
- 1/3 cup of roasted pepitas
- 4 tbsps. Fresh lime juice
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Mix the cilantro, onion, jalapeño, avocados, pepitas, and lime juice in a bowl. Mash with the use of a fork.
- Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Top with pepitas and serve with veggies.
6. Pumpkin Seed Granola
This quick pick-me-upper is a healthy way to satisfy your desire for sweets.
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3 tbsps. Chia seeds
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Mix the pumpkin seeds, coconut, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Add the maple syrup and stir well until the seeds have been coated.
- Transfer the mixture into the baking pan. Spread it to create an even, flat layer.
- Bake the mixture for 25 minutes or until golden.
- Top with sliced bananas or other fruits. Let cool before serving.
Tip: Store the granola bar in an airtight container. This may last for a week in room temperature – and a whole month if stored in the fridge.
7. Hearty Cookies
If you’re looking for a sweet pumpkin seed recipe, then this grain-filled cookie recipe is perfect for you.
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup raw cane sugar
- ½ tsp. Ground cinnamon
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 tbsps. Honey
- ½ tsp. Baking soda
- 1 pinch fine pink Himalayan salt
- 3 tbsps. Boiling water
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix the flours, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the oats and coconut. Toss to combine.
- Fold in the pepitas, walnuts, raisins, and cranberries with the mixture.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Mix the baking soda and boiling water in a small bowl. Add to the butter to achieve a frothy mixture.
- Make a well in the middle of the large bowl and pour the butter mixture in.
- Wet your hands to form 15 balls (measuring ¼ cup each) from this mixture.
- Place the balls on the sheet 1.5 inches apart. Press it down until each serving is ½ inch thick.
- Bake for 16-17 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Pumpkin Seed Brittle
This sweet pumpkin seed recipe is so yummy that the kids will love snacking on it too!
- 2 cups raw cane sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 ½ cups pepitas
- 1 cup water
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with olive oil.
- Boil the water, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook for 8 minutes or until the mixture reaches 238F.
- Stir the pumpkin seeds and mix for another 5 minutes – or until the temperature reaches 290F.
- Pour the mixture into the pan and spread it to form a thin layer. Cool for an hour.
- Lift the mixture from the pan and break it into several pieces.
Note: This may be stored in an airtight container for a week.
How to Buy Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are available in the online health food stores or in your local organic food store in raw, roasted, or sprouted forms. Some remain in their green shells – these are commonly known as Pepitas.
To get the best product possible, be wary of certain ingredients such as salt. They lower the seeds’ nutritional value – and may even spike your blood pressure. Remember, where salt goes – water follows.
Another thing you might enjoy is cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil, which is made from both the seeds and the shells. You can drizzle this on salads, add it to smoothies, or just eat it by itself. But like other oils, this is prone to rancidity. To prolong its shelf life, you need to keep it ina cool, dry place, away from direct light – or the fridge.
Pumpkin seeds are green, flat, oval seeds. They are rich in fibre, protein, magnesium, and other vital nutrients.
Pumpkin seeds are mostly available in raw, roasted, and hulled forms. While they are good snacks by themselves, they may also be added to soups, granolas, cookies, and other baked goods.
Eaten as early as 7,500 years ago, pumpkin seeds boast of many health benefits. For one, pumpkin seeds help reduce inflammation and fight cancer cells. They also help improve heart health – as well as lower one’s risk of diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds are also used to treat an overactive bladder – as well as prostate and sperm problems in men.
Taking pumpkin seeds is also good for sleep and weight management. Add to that, they may also prevent hair loss in people with androgenetic alopecia.
While healthy, pumpkin seed consumption should only be limited to one cup a day. An excess of this may bring about gas, bloating, constipation, and weight gain.