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Pumpkin Seeds: Nutrition, Benefits & Recipes

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You must have relished the sweet pumpkin, but have you tasted the pumpkin seeds? Pumpkin seeds are a great snack option. They are small, oval-shaped and are packed full of valuable nutrients [1] .

Pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats which are essential fatty acids that help in maintaining healthy blood vessels and lowering bad cholesterol in the blood [2] . The wonderful pumpkin seeds contain fibre that will keep your stomach full for longer.

Nutritional Value Of Pumpkin Seeds

100 g of dried pumpkin seeds contain 559 kcal (energy) and they also contain:

  • 10.71 g carbohydrates
  • 30.23 g protein
  • 49.05 g total fat
  • 6 g fibre
  • 58 mcg folate
  • 4.987 mg niacin
  • 0.750 mg vitamin B5
  • 0.143 mg vitamin B6
  • 0.153 mg riboflavin
  • 0.273 mg thiamin
  • 16 IU vitamin A
  • 1.9 mcg vitamin C
  • 35.10 mg vitamin E
  • 46 mg calcium
  • 1.343 mg copper
  • 8.82 mg iron
  • 592 mg magnesium
  • 4.543 mg manganese
  • 1233 mg phosphorus
  • 9.4 mcg selenium
  • 7.81 mg zinc

Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds

1. Promote heart health

Pumpkin seeds are rich in healthy fats, fibre and various antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart. They contain monounsaturated fatty acids that help to lower bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol in the body [3] . A study found that pumpkin seed oil could improve cholesterol levels in post-menopausal women due to its plant sterols and phytosterols content [4] .

2. Aid in weight loss

The high content of dietary fibre in pumpkin seeds help speed up your metabolism and keep you full for longer. This accelerates your weight loss process as well as reduces the chances of obesity[5] . Eating pumpkin seeds as a snack will keep you away from other unhealthy snacks.

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3. Lower diabetes

Pumpkin seeds are known to lower blood sugar because it contains hypoglycaemic properties according to a study [6] . The seeds improve insulin regulation and decrease oxidative stress in diabetic patients. Including pumpkin seed powder in your juice could help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

4. Build immunity

Pumpkin seeds contain high amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants that help to strengthen the immune system and ward away diseases. The presence of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant and vitamin E in pumpkin seeds can help reduce the possibility of viral infections that may lead to flu, cold and other ailments [7] .

5. Reduce breast cancer risk

Eating pumpkin seeds can reduce the risk of cancer as they are an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect the healthy cells from harmful free radicals [8] . Post-menopausal women have a higher risk of breast cancer and eating the seeds will reduce their breast cancer risk [9] .

6. Boost prostate health

A study revealed that intake of pumpkin seeds can influence prostate health by strengthening the prostate gland and promoting healthy hormone function in men. This lowers the risk of prostate cancer [10] .

Consuming pumpkin seeds may also help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that causes problems with urination because of an enlarged prostate gland [11] .

7. Lower inflammation

Pumpkin seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties which are known to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis pain [12] . Antioxidants like vitamin E and carotenoids help lower inflammation so, consume pumpkin seeds or you can use pumpkin seed oil to treat pain in the joints.

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8. Improve bladder health

A noted study has shown that eating pumpkin seeds can help lower the symptoms of an overactive bladder in both men and women [13] . The study was done on 45 men and women with overactive bladders who consumed 10 grams of pumpkin seed extract daily which helped improve their urinary function.

9. Provide good sleep

Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid which further gets converted into serotonin and melatonin in the body that help you in getting a good night's sleep. Both these hormones give you sound sleep and treat chronic insomnia. If you have trouble in falling asleep, have a handful of pumpkin seeds before going to bed [14] .

10. Improve male fertility

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with zinc which helps improve the overall sperm quality in men. It plays a major role in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. Also, pumpkin seeds may protect human sperm from damage caused by autoimmune diseases and chemotherapy [15] .

11. Enhance skin and hair health

Pumpkin seeds are rich in squalene, an antioxidant that plays a major role in protecting the skin against UV rays and other types of radiation exposure [16] . The seeds also help in the growth of hair due to its vitamin E content.

Risks Involved In Consuming Pumpkin Seeds

If you are allergic to seeds and nuts, it is better to avoid pumpkin seeds. Though pumpkin seeds aren't considered a highly allergic seed as compared to other seeds but still, if you are allergic to pumpkin you may develop an allergy to pumpkin seeds. The allergy symptoms include asthma attacks, eczema, sneezing, nasal congestion, etc[17] .

How To Eat Pumpkin Seeds

You need to first remove the seeds from the pumpkin and wash it thoroughly. Allow the seeds to dry in room temperature.

  • Roast the dried seeds and add it to your fruit or vegetable salads.
  • Toss the seeds in olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and other spices to enjoy it as a healthy snack.
  • Prepare granola made with pumpkin seeds, nuts and dried fruits.
  • Make pumpkin seed butter by blending raw pumpkin seeds in a blender and serve it as a dip.
  • Use pumpkin seed oil as a salad dressing as well in cooking.
  • Use the seeds in meat, rice and vegetable dishes.

Pumpkin Seed Recipes

1. Pesto pasta with pumpkin seeds [18]

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup pesto sauce
  • 2 cups whole wheat spaghetti
  • ¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Parmesan cheese for dressing

Method:

  • Cook spaghetti till al dente.
  • In a pan, add pesto and pumpkin seeds and stir it.
  • Add the spaghetti and mix properly for a few minutes.
  • Top with parmesan cheese.

2. Rye & pumpkin seed crackers [19]

Ingredients:

  • 200 g rye flour
  • 200 g wholemeal flour
  • 100 g pumpkin seeds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp castor sugar
  • 1 egg

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius and place 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Beat the egg along with 250 ml water and pour it into the dry ingredients.
  • Mix it and knead it into a soft dough.
  • Roll it thin and cut into squares about 7 cm and transfer it to the baking trays.
  • Bake for 45 min and flip the crackers and bake it for another 45 min.
View Article References
  1. [1] Joshi, D. C., Das, S. K., & Mukherjee, R. K. (1993). Physical properties of pumpkin seeds.Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research,54(3), 219-229.
  2. [2] Murkovic, M., Hillebrand, A., Winkler, J., Leitner, E., & Pfannhauser, W. (1996). Variability of fatty acid content in pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo L.).Zeitschrift für Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung,203(3), 216-219.
  3. [3] Lanzmann-Petithory, D. (2001). Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases.The journal of nutrition, health & aging,5(3), 179-183.
  4. [4] Gossell-Williams, M., Hyde, C., Hunter, T., Simms-Stewart, D., Fletcher, H., McGrowder, D., & Walters, C. A. (2011). Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.Climacteric,14(5), 558-564.
  5. [5] Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., ... & Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber.Nutrition reviews,67(4), 188-205.
  6. [6] Adams, G. G., Imran, S., Wang, S., Mohammad, A., Kok, M. S., Gray, D. A., ... & Harding, S. E. (2014). The hypoglycemic effect of pumpkin seeds, Trigonelline (TRG), Nicotinic acid (NA), and D-Chiro-inositol (DCI) in controlling glycemic levels in diabetes mellitus.Critical reviews in food science and nutrition,54(10), 1322-1329.
  7. [7] Murkovic, M., Hillebrand, A., Winkler, J., & Pfannhauser, W. (1996). Variability of vitamin E content in pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo L).Zeitschrift für Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung,202(4), 275-278.
  8. [8] Xanthopoulou, M. N., Nomikos, T., Fragopoulou, E., & Antonopoulou, S. (2009). Antioxidant and lipoxygenase inhibitory activities of pumpkin seed extracts.Food Research International,42(5-6), 641-646.
  9. [9] Zaineddin, A. K., Buck, K., Vrieling, A., Heinz, J., Flesch-Janys, D., Linseisen, J., & Chang-Claude, J. (2012). The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study.Nutrition and cancer,64(5), 652-665.
  10. [10] Jiang, J., Loganathan, J., Eliaz, I., Terry, C., Sandusky, G. E., & Sliva, D. (2012). ProstaCaid™ inhibits tumor growth in a xenograft model of human prostate cancer.International journal of oncology,40(5), 1339-1344.
  11. [11] Hong, H., Kim, C. S., & Maeng, S. (2009). Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia.Nutrition research and practice,3(4), 323-7.
  12. [12] Fahim, A. T., Abd-El Fattah, A. A., Agha, A. M., & Gad, M. Z. (1995). Effect of pumpkin-seed oil on the level of free radical scavengers induced during adjuvant-arthritis in rats.Pharmacological research,31(1), 73-79.
  13. [13] Nishimura, M., Ohkawara, T., Sato, H., Takeda, H., & Nishihira, J. (2014). Pumpkin Seed Oil Extracted From Cucurbita maxima Improves Urinary Disorder in Human Overactive Bladder.Journal of traditional and complementary medicine,4(1), 72-74.
  14. [14] Halson S. L. (2014). Sleep in elite athletes and nutritional interventions to enhance sleep.Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.),44 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S13-23.
  15. [15] Elfiky, S. A., Elelaimy, I. A., Hassan, A. M., Ibrahim, H. M., & Elsayad, R. I. (2012). Protective effect of pumpkin seed oil against genotoxicity induced by azathioprine.The Journal of Basic & Applied Zoology,65(5), 289-298.
  16. [16] Naziri, E., Mitić, M. N., & Tsimidou, M. Z. (2016). Contribution of tocopherols and squalene to the oxidative stability of cold‐pressed pumkin seed oil (Cucurbita pepo L.).European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology,118(6), 898-905.
  17. [17] Valverde-Monge, M., Bartolome, B., Custa-Herranz, J., & De las Heras, M. (2017).Allergy to Pumpkin Seeds. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 139(2), AB138.
  18. [18] Two Step Pesto Pasta with Pumpkin Seeds. Retrieved from http://www.orlandodietitian.com/2013/03/two-step-pesto-pasta-with-pumpkin-seeds/
  19. [19] Best, C. Rye & pumpkin seed crackers. Retrived from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3158676/rye-and-pumpkin-seed-crackers

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