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Pumpkin seeds are small but mighty and packed with valuable nutrients. Pumpkins (and their seeds) are native to the Americas. Native American tribes celebrated pumpkin seeds for their dietary and medicinal properties. Pumpkin seeds have been traced back to Aztec cultures in South America as far back as 1300-1500 AD. Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas” which comes from the spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” which means little seed of squash.
Pumpkin seeds are flat, green seeds sometimes encased in a shell. They are delicious and nutritious. These seeds have a chewy texture with a subtly sweet, nutty flavor. An ounce of pumpkin seeds (shell free) contains roughly 150 calories and is rich in zinc, iron, magnesium, antioxidants and other valuable nutrients.
The Who Knew of Pumpkin seeds:
- Full of antioxidants that may protect against disease and reduce inflammation
- May help prevent certain types of cancers (stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon)
- Low in cholesterol and sodium
- Shown to reduce symptoms of overactive bladder and benign prostate hypertrophy
- Rich in magnesium, which has many health benefits including: blood pressure, blood sugar levels, heart health, and bone health
- May reduce blood sugar levels and risk of type 2 diabetes
- Good source of zinc, magnesium, and tryptophan - all which promote a good night sleep
- High zinc content which may increase male fertility and sperm quality
- Good source of fiber
Let’s explore the many health benefits of pumpkin seeds:
Antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants which may help reduce inflammation and act as a protection against many diseases
Bone Health: Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of magnesium. Magnesium is important for bone formation, specifically increasing bone density and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis in older women.
Diabetes: The antioxidants and magnesium in pumpkin seeds may reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.
Hair-loss: One study found that taking 400mg of pumpkin seed oil a day (capsule) increased hair count by 40%.
Immune Function: Pumpkin seeds contain a high volume of Vitamin E which helps strengthen the immune system.
Menopause symptoms: A pilot study found that women taking pumpkin seed oil had increased HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) and a reduced menopause symptoms including reduction in hot flashes, joint pain and headaches.
Sex-boosting food: Pumpkin seeds have been used in some countries as an aphrodisiac. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and omega-3 which may increase the male and female sex drive.
Sleep: Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, zinc and tryptophan which may help regulate, promote and improve your sleep cycle.
Urinary Health: An article published by the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that pumpkin seed oil can improve overactive bladder (OAB) in adults. Another article found a reduction in urinary symptoms in men suffering from benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) when taking pumpkin seed extract.Overactive bladder (OAB) is defined by the International Continence Society (ICS) as a syndrome with urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with urinary frequency (need to void multiple times throughout the day) and nocturia (condition in which you wake up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night). OAB symptoms are usually associated with lower urinary tract dysfunction. Symptoms of OAB are found in 15% of adults age 40+ and the prevalence increases with age. Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) is defined as nonmalignant overgrowth of the prostate gland affecting middle aged and older men. This overgrowth can cause obstruction at the bladder outlet and cause a variety of symptoms including; weak urine stream, urinary frequency, nocturia, hesitancy, incomplete emptying, urge incontinence, and urinary retention. The aforementioned articles found that Pumpkin seed oil extracted from C. maxima and C. pepo had no severe side effects and was well tolerated in the treatment of OAB and BPH. Pumpkin seed oil extracted from C. pepo administered at 500-1000 mg/day for 12 weeks caused a reduction in prostate symptoms scores by 41.4%.
So the next time you are at the store and looking for a healthy snack, grab a bag of pumpkin seeds. One cup of pumpkin seeds contains the following:
- Protein: 33.9g (68% of your daily volume)
- Dietary Fiber: 5.4g (22% DV)
- Vitamin K: 70.9 mcg (89% DV)
- Magnesium: 738mg (185% DV)
- Phosphorus: 1620mg (162% DV)
- Iron: 20.7mg (115% DV)
- Copper: 1.9mg (96% DV)
- Manganese: 4.2mg (208% DV)
- Zinc: 10.3mg (69% DV)
We recommend buying certified organic raw pumpkin seeds. This allows you to roast them yourself while controlling the roasting time/temperature, and avoiding exposure to potential contaminants. Pumpkin seeds should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and will maintain their peak freshness for approximately one to two months. When buying pumpkin seed oil choose cold-pressed oil, this will retain the antioxidants and health benefits that are lost by heat. Pumpkin seed oil should be refrigerated after opening and can last for up to two years. * If you are pregnant or nursing talk with your doctor before taking pumpkin seed oil.
If eating pumpkin seeds as a snack does not interest you, try some of our quick tips to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your meals:
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of a salad
- Mix pumpkin seeds with dry fruit and nuts to make granola
- Add pumpkin seeds to smoothies
- Saute pumpkin seeds with vegetables
- Add pumpkin seeds to oatmeal
- Pumpkin seed oil is available as a cooking oil
- Next time you are making a burger, add pumpkin seeds to the mix
- Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste, bake until golden brown
Love to cook, here are some of our favorite Pumpkin Seed recipes:
- Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter
- Roasted Pumpkin Seed Hummus
- Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - 6 ways