Pumpkin seeds are an edible seed which is typically roasted for consumption. They may be small, but they’re packed full of valuable nutrients.
The seeds of the pumpkin are sometimes referred to as pepitas, Spanish for “little seed of squash.” Eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of nutrients such as healthy fats, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.
They also contain a phytochemical known as phytosterols which are free-radical scavenging antioxidants. Due to their nutritional contents, pumpkin seeds have been associated with several health benefits.
These include improved heart health, immune support, prostate health and protection against certain cancers. Here are the top health benefits of pumpkin seeds that you should consider.
1. Pumpkin Seeds Are High in Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best known natural sources of magnesium.
In the US alone, around 79 percent of adults had a magnesium intake below the RDA (1).
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Magnesium is necessary for more than 600 known chemical reactions in the body.
One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the RDA of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions.
Adequate level of magnesium intake is necessary for;
- ATP formation (the energy currency of the body)
- Synthesis of RNA and DNA
- Blood glucose regulation (2,3).
- Formation and maintenance of healthy bones (4).
- Blood pressure regulation (5)
- Reducing risk of heart disease (6).
2. Pumpkin Seeds May Help Improve Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids, all of which help keep your heart healthy (7).
Improvements in lipid profiles have also been seen with an intake of 365 milligrams of magnesium per day.
Other scientific studies suggest that it may be the nitric oxide enzymes contained in pumpkin seed oil that is responsible for its positive effects on heart health (10).
Nitric oxide which is a vasodilator helps expand blood vessels, improving blood flow and reducing the risk of plaque growth in the arteries.
3. Pumpkin Seeds May Help Boost Immune System
Pumpkin seeds are a very rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral).
Zinc is important to the body in many ways.
It provides immunity, cell growth, and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
Zinc deficiency is associated with health conditions such as chronic fatigue, depression, low birth weight, acne, babies and increased colds and flu. It also has effects on learning and poor academic performance in children, among others.
4. Pumpkin Seeds May Help Improve Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important food for men’s health.
Pumpkin seeds may also help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). A condition where the prostate gland enlarges and can cause problems with urination.
This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (The highest concentration of zinc in the body is in the prostate).
Several studies in humans found that eating these seeds reduced symptoms that are associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (11).
A scientific study of over 1,400 men looked at the effects of consuming pumpkin seeds on BPH. After one year period, men receiving them reported reduced symptoms and a better quality of life (12).
5. Pumpkin Seeds May Help Prevent Insomnia
Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.
Tryptophan has been used to treat chronic insomnia because it is being converted by the body into serotonin, the “feel-good” or “relaxing” hormone, and melatonin, the “sleep hormone.”
Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is can help improve sleep (13). However, you would need to eat as much as 7 oz (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds to get the necessary 1 gram of tryptophan.
In addition, pumpkin seeds provide adequate amount of magnesium. An adequate magnesium level is also known to be associated with better sleep (14).
6. Pumpkin Seeds Are High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals generated by your body.
Because of this, consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help protect against many different chronic diseases (17). It is believed that the high levels of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds are partly responsible for their positive health effect.
7. Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Pumpkin seeds or a diet rich in pumpkin seed have been associated with lower levels of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers (18).
An observational study found that eating them was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (19).
8. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may have difficulties controlling their blood sugar levels.
Several scientific studies have found that supplementing the diet with pumpkin juice or seed powder can reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (23).
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may also be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes. However, more research study is needed to confirm this beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.
What next? Read 15 Healthy High Fiber Foods List (Plus Free Printable)