10 Health Benefits of Nutrient-Dense Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds may appear unassuming for the simple fact that they are really tiny. Not many people actually care about them, in fact, most of us would throw them out. But lo and behold, pumpkin seeds are actually valuable and are a rich source of nutrients.
For this reason, pumpkin seeds are linked to many health benefits such as blood sugar regulation, weight management, cardiovascular health and more. The best and easiest way to consume pumpkin seeds is to make it an addition to your daily diet. A lot of countries consider pumpkin seeds as a finger food or a snack. These tiny seeds are consumed salted, unsalted, or you can even have them raw.
10 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
1. Pumpkin Seeds Can Be Easily Incorporated to Your Diet
If you feel like drinking a smoothie on a hot day, grind some pumpkin seeds with your ingredients for some added texture. You can also top them on cereals, soups, and salads. Others use pumpkin seeds as an ingredient in sweet dishes such as bread and pastries.
Take note, however, that pumpkin seeds are loaded with phytic acid. (1) Phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient since it interferes with the absorption of minerals in the body.
So if you plan on gorging on pumpkin seeds frequently, make sure to roast them. Roasting reduces the phytic acid content in the seeds. Soaking the seeds before consuming them may also help.
2. Pumpkin Seeds May Promote Better Sleep Quality and Duration
Many people are diagnosed with insomnia, but eating pumpkin seeds may do the trick.
What most people don’t know is that pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid called tryptophan, which helps in getting better sleep. 200 grams of pumpkin seeds will get you 1 gram of tryptophan, which is enough to help you sleep throughout the night. (2)
Pumpkin seeds are also a source of magnesium and zinc. Magnesium plays an important role in a person’s sleeping habits. (3) Zinc on the other hand, helps in converting the amino acid to melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
3. Pumpkin Seeds Improve Sexual Function in Men
Based on studies, men who are infertile or have low sperm quality have low zinc levels. (4) As previously mentioned, pumpkin seeds contain loads of zinc. Zinc helps in improving the quality of sperm, and the antioxidant content of pumpkin seeds which helps in the betterment of testosterone especially in men, can also lead to improved sexual function.
There is also a study conducted in mice, which may prove that pumpkin seeds have the ability to protect damage to human sperm caused by diseases or chemotherapy. (5)
4. Pumpkin Seeds Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetic patients may benefit from consuming pumpkin seeds in addition to the rest of the vegetable. As mentioned previously, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium. Magnesium has been linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in both men and women. (6)
Furthermore, pumpkin juice and pumpkin seeds, when tested in animal studies, have shown signs of reduced blood sugar levels. (7)
This could be a breakthrough in the field of medicine and homeopathy if more studies are conducted that can show a stronger link between pumpkin and blood sugar levels in humans.
5. Pumpkin Seeds Are Good for the Heart
Oil extracted from pumpkin seeds contains nitric oxide, which helps improve blood circulation. There have been studies that suggest that enzymes in nitric oxide are a contributing factor in keeping the heart healthy.
Zinc, magnesium, fatty acids, and antioxidants have long been proven to maintain heart health; all of which can be found in pumpkin seeds.
In a study conducted in women of postmenopausal stage, consuming pumpkin seed oil in 12 weeks improved good cholesterol by 16% and also reduced blood pressure by 7%. (9)
Through the intake of pumpkin seeds, a person is able to keep his or her heart healthy by way of improving HDL cholesterol and the reduction of blood pressure.
6. Pumpkin Seeds Will Keep Magnesium Deficiency At Bay
Magnesium is needed for important chemical reactions and bodily processes such as decreasing the risk of heart disease, maintaining healthy blood pressure, controlling the levels of sugar in the blood, and maintaining good formation of bones.
Over 70% of adults in the U.S. have inadequate levels of magnesium in the body. This can be easily fixed through more mindful eating habits.
7. Pumpkin Seeds Help in Keeping the Bladder and Prostate Healthy
In a study conducted on both men and women with overactive bladders, a daily intake of pumpkin seed extract in supplement form greatly improved the function of the bladder.
Although more studies are needed for validation, pumpkin seeds are also believed to reduce the risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. This condition is common in men where there is an enlargement of the prostate gland.
By eating pumpkin seeds, men involved in a study reported better urinary control. (11)
8. Pumpkin Seeds Have Been Lower Your Risk of Developing Certain Types of Cancers
Pumpkin seeds contain lignans, a key factor in preventing and also treating breast cancer. (12) Furthermore, individuals who consume pumpkin seeds on a regular basis have also shown signs of having a lower risk of contracting cancers in the lung, stomach, colon, and prostate.
9. Pumpkin Seeds Are Rich in Antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of vitamin E and carotenoids. These antioxidants prevent damage to the cells caused by free radicals. With these antioxidants, there will be a significant reduction in inflammation, which is one of the causes for most diseases. (13)
A study conducted on rats with arthritis involving pumpkin seed oil resulted in positive effects. The rats given pumpkin seed oil did not experience side effects as opposed to the rats given drugs for treatment of inflammation.
10. Pumpkin Seeds Are Good for the Skin and the Hair
The presence of antioxidants, and vitamin C and E in pumpkin seeds are a great contribution in keeping the skin hydrated and more elastic. These vitamins are also responsible in keeping the hair follicles stimulated, thereby reducing damage caused by brittleness. Many hair and skin products these days include pumpkin seed oil extract as one of the main ingredients for reversing damage and promoting heart health.
Pumpkins tend to go rancid due to their fat content, so proper storage is important to preserve its shelf life. Always store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Also, the phytic acid found in pumpkin seeds should be kept in mind as extremely high intakes may cause minor negative side effects.
Consuming pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil is a good dietary practice for overall health and wellness. There are no serious risks to eating pumpkin seeds, and its nutritional profile make it a good low-calorie food that one can easily incorporate into almost any kind of diet.