Some of the smallest foods hold the most powerful properties for your health. A seed so tiny yet so powerful are this superfood. Pumpkin seeds are beneficial for the heart, bones, happiness and much more.
The seeds are extracted from pumpkins which are native to America, typically North, and have been a dietary and medicinal seed for hundreds of years. This has led to a popularity and need for pumpkin seeds worldwide for millions to reap their many health benefits. Today, China produces more pumpkin seeds than any other country.
Let’s find out what exactly pumpkin seeds are, where they come from and their 15 top health benefits anyone can attain from consuming them daily:
- What are Pumpkin Seeds?
- A list of the 15 proven benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 – Packed full of essential nutrients your body needs
- 2 – May reduce the risk of certain cancers
- 3 – Very high in magnesium
- 4 – Improves prostate and bladder health
- 5 – High in antioxidants
- 6 – Lowers blood sugar levels
- 7 – Improves heart health
- 8 – May improve sperm quality
- 9 – Helps with weight loss
- 10 – Boosts the immune system
- 11 – Aids a healthier pregnancy
- 12 – Improves eye health
- 13 – May help improve sleep
- 14 – Helps with diabetes
- 15 – Improves bone health
- The manufacturing process of Pumpkin Seeds
- Recommended dosage of Pumpkin Seeds
- Risks and Side Effects of Pumpkin Seeds
- Pros and Cons of Pumpkin Seeds
- Where to buy Pumpkin Seeds: the complete guide
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds which come from a pumpkin, or similar squash variations. Pumpkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family which is made up of watermelons, cantaloupe and cucumbers too.
The seeds are typically flat oval shaped green seeds which can be consumed without the white outer shell. They are packed full of healthy fats, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium and many more nutrients which make them very beneficial to your health in a variety of ways.
These tiny seeds along with their mother, the pumpkin, are native to America and are known there as “pepita”. They are a big part of Mexican cuisine as they are used in many dishes. Pumpkin seeds were a good once consumed by Native American tribes for their amazing dietary and medicinal properties. Since, the growth of exportation and food exploration has boosted their consumption worldwide, to be consumed in the same way as Americans or as a delicious snack.
They have been a popular snack since the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that they are one of the best foods to eat for obtaining zinc and magnesium. Just one tablespoon of the seeds contains almost 1mg of zinc and 40mg of magnesium, which equals to around 20% of your daily recommended intake.
These two minerals have been appreciated and used for centuries in medicinal ways. Now due to research, more people than ever are adding pumpkin seeds to their diets to obtain their numerous health benefits.
What else is inside this tiny seed is quite astounding. Its nutritious makeup provides benefits to the heart, bones and many other body functions:
A list of the 15 proven benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Due to pumpkin seeds being densely packed with essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, they provide an impressive amount of health benefits. With these seeds being very easy to put into your diet, they can help everyone with a concern they have, should the seed be beneficial to the condition or concern.
Our team on fcer.org listed the top 15 ways pumpkin seeds can improve your health:
1 – Packed full of essential nutrients your body needs
When bought for human consumption, pumpkin seeds are without the shell and are dark green in colour and oval in shape. 28 grams of the seeds provides around 151 nutritiously packed calories from protein and fat. This size portion provides 7 grams of protein and 13 grams of fat, of which 6 grams are omega-6s.
As well as this, 28 grams – one ounce – provides the body with 1.7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of carbohydrates and an incredible amount of vitamins and minerals. As discussed, pumpkin seeds stand out due to their magnesium and zinc content and this portion size provides 37% magnesium and 14% zinc of the recommended daily intake.
Pumpkin seeds and the seed oil have been thoroughly researched to see if their nutritive content is worthy of providing them with a high status in the diet and medicinal world, and the research has proven positive. This study found that pumpkin seeds were the most abundant in nutritional value than any other seed.
2 – May reduce the risk of certain cancers
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidant nutrients, which play a key role in decreasing cancer risk. Preliminary research suggests that pumpkin seed extracts provide high antioxidant activity and high lingan content showed to have strong results for reducing certain cancers, such as colon, stomach, breast and prostate.
Due to this open and wide research study, there have been many more in-depth studies on the individual cancers and the effect pumpkin seed extract can have. A large observational German study on postmenopausal women found that eating pumpkin seeds reduced the risk of breast cancer.
Another study, focusing on male test tubes this time, found pumpkin seed extract has potential to slow down the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Pumpkin seeds cannot guarantee to reduce the risk for everyone, but some research has shown positive results.
3 – Very high in magnesium
Pumpkins and their seeds are extremely high in magnesium, a mineral which lacks in Western diets. In the US alone, over 79% of the population lacks magnesium in their diets. With the help of pumpkin seeds, you can easily increase your intake.
Research found that magnesium is needed for over 600 chemical reactions in the body which helps for blood pressure control, reducing heart disease and improving bone health.
Magnesium keeps the body healthy and helps maintain your cardiovascular strength, which is important for inhibiting medical complications.
A research study on over 127,000 men and women found that magnesium also has beneficial health properties for those with type 2 diabetes. The magnesium content inhibits risk of diabetes due to playing a role in improving blood sugar levels.
4 – Improves prostate and bladder health
For males, a common issue with the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), can cause urination to be difficult. This is due to the prostate becoming enlarged which makes it hard to urinate. A study of 1,400 men with BHP saw an improvement with urination after consuming pumpkin seeds.
The effect pumpkin seeds can have on BHP helps encourage a healthier bladder and can reduce the risk of an overactive bladder.
5 – High in antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds contain many antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids, which play a vital role in good health. Antioxidants are known to reduce the damage free radicals can cause on the body which can inhibit diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases.
The high antioxidant makeup in pumpkin seeds is the reason for them having so many health benefits. The mix of so many antioxidants is what makes pumpkin seeds stand out, as it is not found in many other foods. Primary health benefits the antioxidants provide is for reducing the risk of disease and inflammation.
6 – Lowers blood sugar levels
Pumpkin is not only consumed and known for its seeds, you can also extract oils and juices which provide similar health benefits for blood sugar levels. Research found that regular intake of pumpkin components can lower blood sugar levels, especially in those with type 2 diabetes.
Pumpkin extract has anti-diabetic properties, which is ideal for those who struggle to lower their blood sugar level. The minerals, especially magnesium, are the active component that reduces and maintains lower blood sugar levels.
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7 – Improves heart health
The seeds from a pumpkin are a great source of unsaturated fats. They are particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is beneficial for heart health. An investigative research study found that when pumpkin seeds are consumed with a healthy balanced diet, they can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve heart health.
The fiber content and plant sterols in pumpkin seeds are the reason for them being great for heart health, as it helps lower cholesterol in the blood.
A study found that the nitric oxide level increases after consuming pumpkin seeds which helps expand blood vessels to help with blood flow. This also helps to widen the arteries and reduce the risk of a buildup of plaque on the walls of the heart.
8 – May improve sperm quality
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which is a mineral that improves sperm quality. The body is naturally low in zinc, which decreases the quality of the sperm. With the consumption of pumpkin seeds, a male can increase their sperm quality, reproduction function and fertility levels.
An animal study found that pumpkin seed consumption improved the biochemical reactions of sperm and improved its quality and reproduction process. The research has not yet been trialled on humans but this research shows good results for sperm quality.
9 – Helps with weight loss
Fiber is a key nutrient that can aid weight loss and pumpkin seeds are naturally high in fiber. A serving size of 28 grams can provide 1.7 grams of fiber, which is enough to make you feel full and satisfied.
The fiber content also aids better digestion. Fiber acts as fuel for the colon cells and also helps keep them healthy. It helps keep the digestive tract healthy which helps produce soft stools for easy digestion and release.
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10 – Boosts the immune system
Pumpkin seeds have a high vitamin E content, which acts as an important antioxidant for the immune system. Vitamin E is effective in strengthening the immune system. It helps flush damaging free radicals from the body in order to protect the immune system from diseases.
As well as vitamin E, the other nutrients in pumpkin seeds have antifungal and antiviral properties that help maintain a healthy immune system.
Read more : List of Foods That Boost Your Immune System
11 – Aids a healthier pregnancy
The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that around 80% of women have a low zinc intake. Their advice states that a lack of zinc during pregnancy can compromise child development and sometimes have an impact on childbirth. The low zinc intake can cause low transport of zinc to the baby, which is key for good development during their first few years of life.
Many scientists and nutritionists suggest that pregnant women in particular should increase their zinc intake to ensure no consequences for the baby.
12 – Improves eye health
Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of squalene, which is essential for retinal health. Squalene helps eye function and maintains clear vision. This is a substance that is natural in animals and plants, but not in humans. Therefore, it is good for humans to find a dietary source that provides a substantial amount of squalene.
Research found that the substance improves eye health by protecting the retina from sunlight damage and promotes growth of a healthy brain as a result of that.
13 – May help improve sleep
The amino acid tryptophan is found in pumpkin seeds, which has treated insomnia for many years. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and melatonin by the body. Serotonin is a feel good hormone, whilst melatonin is the sleep hormone.
A study in 2005 found that consuming a gourd seed, like pumpkin seed, alongside a carbohydrate has the same effect as a pharmaceutical tryptophan medicine. Therefore, consuming pumpkin seeds along with a carbohydrate source before bed may help improve insomnia.
14 – Helps with diabetes
One of the main causes of type 2 diabetes is reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can be protected or inhibited with antioxidants. As pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, they are considered very beneficial for those at risk of or have type 2 diabetes.
One study on animals found that after consuming pumpkin seed mixture, diabetic levels started to decline and blood sugar levels improved. There is substantial evidence for the effect of pumpkin seeds and their antioxidant properties on improving blood sugar levels, which is a key issue for diabetic patients.
15 – Improves bone health
Magnesium plays a vital role in bone strength as it contributes to bone density, which is key for preventing osteoporosis. Research has found that magnesium deficiency can cause osteoporosis, therefore the bones need magnesium in order to maintain their health and inhibit any mineral density deline.
Pumpkin seeds are so tiny yet boast a huge amount of benefits for the health of your bones, heart and more. With that in mind, let’s find out exactly how they are manufactured so you know exactly what you are consuming:
The manufacturing process of Pumpkin Seeds
The process and manufacturing process began over 5,000 years ago in America. Since, once marinated and roasted they are enjoyed in the autumn months in the US.
The pumpkins are grown and then picked from the fields, and are most popular in the autumn. After picking, they are put into a machine with four large spikes that crushes the pumpkins which separates the seeds from the inner wall of the pumpkin.
The seeds are then dried then washed, followed by a deshelling process for human consumption. They are then usually salted or spiced after roasting for flavour, then are then sold worldwide.
If you are looking to add pumpkin seeds to your diet due to their numerous health benefits, here is how best to consume them:
Recommended dosage of Pumpkin Seeds
You can start and stop consuming pumpkin seeds as you wish. There is very little report of side effects. Although, if you do notice bloating or gas, it is advised to reduce consumption or stop.
The recommended daily dose of pumpkin is 30 grams – around one quarter of a cup of seeds – which is enough to provide you with the proven health benefits. This serving size will also provide you with a good amount of protein, healthy fats, fiber, zinc, magnesium and its other effective nutrients.
It is not advised to eat more than the recommended daily amount as eating too many can cause a buildup of gas or bloating. One benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they help soften stools and encourage bowel movement due to the fiber content. However, if you consume too many they can have a reverse effect and cause a slow down and hardening of stools. Also, keep in mind they are high in calories and fat.
If you wonder what risk or side effects pumpkin seeds may cause, here is more:
Risks and Side Effects of Pumpkin Seeds
For the most part, pumpkins and their contents are primarily safe. There is little to no risk of consuming pumpkin seeds when consumed in the recommended amount.
One main side effect is the slow down of bowel movement. As they are high in fiber, they can cause gas and bloating when eating too many or too often. The overconsumption of pumpkin seeds can therefore also cause constipation, especially if they have their shells on. To prevent this, it is advised to consume the daily recommended amount of 30 grams without shells.
Another risk of overconsumption of pumpkin seeds is weight gain. They are tiny seeds but are quite high in calories and fats, therefore eating too many may interact with your weight and cause you to gain weight.
Read more : Our list of healthy foods to gain weight
These are the only side effects and risks currently reported. Whilst they are mild, they can still cause problems. To prevent any side effects, stick to the recommended dosage.
With there being little side effects to report, let’s weigh up the pros and cons of pumpkin seeds:
Pros and Cons of Pumpkin Seeds
Like every dietary food, there are positives and negatives to pumpkin seeds. However, as they are all natural with a great makeup of nutrients, there are considerably more pros than cons. Here is more:
|Provide many health benefits||High in calories and fat|
|Affordable||Can cause slow down of bowel movement, gas and bloating|
|Easy to grow yourself|
|A large research background to guarantee health benefits|
|Little to no side effects|
|Provide the body with essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins|
Now, you may wish to know where is the best place to purchase pumpkin seeds, the tips and essential information. Here is the complete guide of everything you need to know:
Where to buy Pumpkin Seeds: the complete guide
Pumpkins can be grown in many climates, and can also be homegrown. They are easily accessible from the comfort of your own garden, allotment or local farm. If you wish to grow or source pumpkin locally, you can extract the seeds yourself from the pumpkin. You can purchase seeds to plant, grow and harvest from local grocery stores, garden shops or online.
Alternatively, for ease of access, pumpkin seeds are sold throughout supermarkets and health stores worldwide. Find them at your local grocery store. You can also purchase pumpkin seeds online at stores such as Amazon. They will vary in price depending on quality, if they are organic and where they are from in the world.
For any more queries or concerns, here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions on pumpkin seeds:
Can pumpkin seeds be eaten raw?
Pumpkin seeds are safe to eat raw as much as they are safe to eat roasted. It is best to eat them either way without the shell for safe and easy digestion. Enjoy them raw sprinkled on salads, or your breakfast or any dish of choice to attain their health and nutritional benefits.
Are pumpkin seeds good for diabetes?
Scientific studies have found that pumpkin seeds are good for diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, as they can lower blood sugar level. This is down to its high magnesium content which works to reduce and maintain a normal blood sugar level.
Does pumpkin seed oil increase testosterone?
Pumpkin seeds seem to have a great impact on male sexual reproduction. The zinc content helps a male produce higher sperm quality as well as increasing reproduction and fertility. The zinc content in pumpkin seeds does not necessarily increase testosterone, it simply balances it to be at a healthy level. Excessive testosterone can lead to infertility, whereas pumpkin seeds and its zinc content improves fertility.
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Do pumpkin seeds make you happy?
Pumpkin seeds all full of amino acids, one being tryptophan which the body naturally converts into serotonin. Serotonin is known as the happiness hormone in the mood, it is a chemical that acts as a mood lifter and regulates anxiety.
Is it bad to eat pumpkin seeds everyday?
Overeating pumpkin seeds occur if you exceed the recommended daily dose of 30 grams. If you stick to the daily guideline, it is not bad to eat pumpkin seeds everyday. However, if you over consume them they can cause gas, bloating or weight gain.
Can pumpkin seeds cause bloating?
Pumpkin seeds can cause bloating if you eat too many of them. They are high in fiber which is a nutrient that can increase unwanted gas in the bowels and result in bloating. To prevent this, stick to this daily recommended amount.
With all that information, let’s tell you our thoughts:
Pumpkin seeds are small in size with so much potential for improving your health. They are packed full of nutritious value, minerals and essential antioxidants to reduce, inhibit and improve many health conditions. They are tiny yet powerful and so easy to add into your diet.
Eating just a small handful a day can allow you to reap the benefits and with them being so versatile, you can add them to almost any meal. Alternatively, you can consume them as a snack and the benefits will be just as effective.
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