Pumpkin Seeds Benefits
Pumpkin seed, also known as pepita, are the edible seeds of a pumpkin or certain other cultivars of squash. Pumpkin seeds have long been known to have great nutritional, as well as medicinal values. Pumpkin seeds have a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped up in a very small package. They also contain plant compounds known as phytosterols and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, which can give health an added boost.
Because these are high-fiber seeds, they’re able to boost fiber intake, helping the body reach the ideal amount of 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. Furthermore, because pumpkin seeds are highly portable and require no refrigeration, they make an excellent snack to carry whenever, or they can be used as a quick anytime snack at home, too. In addition, a 1-oz (28-gram) serving contains:
- Phosphorous: 33% of the RDI.
- Fiber: 1.7 grams.
- Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s).
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI.
- Carbs: 5 grams.
- Zinc: 14% of the RDI.
- Protein: 7 grams.
- Copper: 19% of the RDI.
- Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI.
- Iron: 23% of the RDI.
Consumed in the right way and dosage, these seeds contain the following benefits:
Both the pulp and seeds of pumpkin are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral required for various biological functions. Magnesium has been shown to benefit blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke. Magnesium is also required for the maintenance bones and teeth. One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions. This includes the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of the body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of the heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of blood vessels, and proper bowel function.
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to the body in many ways. This includes regulating the immune system, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, physical senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function. They are rich in the amino acid. While experts agree that it’s likely that it’s the overeating that lulls the body, the amino acid is important in the production of serotonin, one of the major players when it comes to managing good mood. Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others.
- Omega-3 fats
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by the body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA — by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. While pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, it is essential to get some of the omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.
- Prostate and bladder health
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. This is in part of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body). Also, because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health. Moreover, a randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the summer of 2008 “Urology” journal treated 476 patients with lower urinary tract symptoms, LUTS, and benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH, with pumpkin seeds. The results showed a significant improvement of 6.8 points, which was 1.2 points over the placebo group. A 2014 study publishing in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that pumpkin seed oil from the types of pumpkin Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita pepo helped patients with the symptoms of an overactive bladder after 6-12 weeks.
- Postmenopausal Benefits
Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good “HDL” cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women.
- Antioxidants benefits
Pumpkin seeds are unique in their abundance of antioxidants. The seeds contain numerous forms of vitamin E, as well as the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic and syringic acid. Antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans are also found in pumpkin seeds, including the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol and lariciresinol. More importantly, this diverse mixture of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds may provide them with antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in other types of food.