Carving a pumpkin this weekend? Don’t throw away those amazing seeds! Instead, roast them for a delicious, healthy treat and enjoy these top 8 health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
Nutrition info per 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds: 128 calories, 12 grams fat, 3 grams carbs (0 grams net carbs) 2 grams protein
While the pumpkin seeds you buy in the store are slightly different than those you pluck out of a carving pumpkin, the nutrition is much the same. Small, greenish, store-bought pumpkin seeds, called pepitas, are smaller and have a softer shell.
Carving-pumpkin seeds have a harder shell, but are still great to eat after roasting. And, they boast a lot of nutrition! Here are the top 8 health benefits of pumpkin seeds:
one of the greatest health benefits of pumpkin seeds is the antioxidants. And, there’s a lot. Pumpkin seeds contain a huge amount and diversity of antioxidants (1). They are unique in this way.
Just take Vitamin E. Pumpkins seeds contain many forms of Vitamin E including alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol, and gamma-tocomonoenol.
In addition, pumpkin seeds contain many mineral antioxidants like zinc, manganese, phenolic antioxidants such as hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic, and syringic acid.
Moreover, pumpkin seeds contain phytonutrient antioxidants like lignans.
What does this mean to you? When you eat pumpkin seeds, you get a lot of diversified antioxidants fighting free radicals and preventing cholesterol oxidation.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper; and a good source of the minerals zinc and iron.
And luckily, roasted unshelled seeds contain more minerals than those that are shelled. For example, you’ll get more zinc in the shell itself and shell lining than in the “meat” of the seed. Whole roasted, unshelled pumpkin seeds contain about 10 milligrams of zinc per 3.5 ounces.
Zinc is an important mineral for hormone balance, energy, and overall health.
Pumpkins contain chemicals, fibers, proteins and fats that are known to lower blood sugars. Studies have shown that they can be helpful in controlling high blood sugars (2).
What’s more, animal studies have shown that pumpkin seeds have the ability to improve insulin regulation in diabetic animals and improve or prevent kidney function deterioration. Since they also decrease oxidative stress, pumpkin seeds can also indirectly reduce the risk of diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
In fact, research has found that pumpkin proteins are the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds are also anti-microbial and anti-viral.
Pumpkin seed oil has specifically been shown to reduce the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, gastric, and lung cancer, arthritis, bladder, and urethral pressure, prostate disease, the progression of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes (3, 4, 5).
This is a great reason to also buy whole pumpkins, roast, and eat the seeds.
Pumpkin seed extracts and oils have long been used in the treatment of benign enlarged prostate glands.
Studies have linked different nutrients in pumpkin seeds to this benefit. Researchers believe it comes from pumpkins’ phytosterols, lignans, and zinc. These nutrients are especially concentrated in pumpkin seed oil.
Eating pumpkin seeds can support prostate health, while pumpkin seed oil has therapeutic properties.
Pumpkin seeds also contain phytosterols. Phytosterols are the components used in cholesterol-lowering supplements, functional foods, and more. They are often termed plant sterols.
What’s more, the carotenoids in pumpkin flesh can protect the heart and other body organs and tissue from free radical damage, oxidative stress, and plaque formation (6).
Metabolic disease includes dysfunctions of overall metabolism, glucose metabolism, and protein metabolism. Animal studies have shown that pumpkin seeds, and their nutrients, can alleviate the dysfunctions.
More studies need to be conducted to find the full benefit of pumpkin seed oil on metabolic disease and dysfunctions (7).
There are many health benefits of pumpkin seeds. Luckily, they are readily available as you carve pumpkins, and easy to make. Don’t throw them away this year. Instead, dry them, roast them, and eat them. Your body will reap the benefits.