The benefits of pumpkin seeds have a lot. Pumpkin seeds are a potent source of many nutrients, offering high levels of essential vitamins and minerals in a small serving. But they also are high in calories, so limit your portions to help manage a healthy weight. Here we are going to discuss the benefits of pumpkin seeds and their side effects.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds provide a boost of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and the nutrients in pumpkin seeds are helpful for managing a variety of health conditions.
Supports Cell Growth and Repair
Protein is an essential nutrient required for our body to build tissues. Adult men and women 31 to 50 years old need about 6 ounce-equivalents and 5 ounce-equivalents, respectively, each day. Having an ounce or two of pumpkin seeds for a snack can help you reach this recommendation, supplying your body with an adequate foundation of amino acid building blocks.
Relieves Prostate Symptoms
Enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), is a common problem for older men. Resulting symptoms in the urinary tract can hinder the quality of life, including the frequent urge to urinate. A recent study suggests the effectiveness of pumpkin seed extract in improving the lives of those living with BPH.
Enhances Immune Function
Consuming 1 ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds (or about 85 seeds) provides 20% of your daily value for zinc. Zinc is a crucial mineral that’s not stored in the body, so regular intake is necessary. Zinc deficiencies lead to an impairment in key immune processes, including natural killer T cell function. Adequate zinc is also vital for proper wound healing after an injury or infection.
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood that is associated with heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help reduce high triglycerides, hence reducing unhealthy cardiovascular markers. A study conducted on patients on maintenance hemodialysis provided a milled seed mixture of pumpkin, flax, and sesame seeds demonstrated a 30% reduction in serum triglycerides after 12 weeks of supplementation. The combination of beneficial fats and fiber in seeds produces cumulative positive effects.
Good for Your Heart
Pumpkin seeds have healthy fats, fibers, and antioxidants that are good for your cardiovascular health. The tiny seeds also have monounsaturated fatty acids that help in lowering the bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. The magnesium in the seeds helps by regulating blood pressure levels.
Helps You Sleep better
Pumpkin seeds have Serotonin, a neurochemical that is considered a natural sleeping pill. These are also rich in Tryptophan, an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin in the body, improving the quality of your sleep. A handful of seeds before you go to bed can be an easy and natural way to get a good night’s sleep.
Pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, which help in reducing arthritis pain. The seeds work as an easy home remedy in treating joint pain.
The seeds are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help in boosting your immunity and reduce your chances of getting sick.
Good for Prostate Health
As per studies, zinc is helpful in promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostate-related problems. Pumpkin seeds have DHEA (Di-hydro epi-androstenedione) that lowers one’s risk of prostate cancer.
Good for Diabetics
Pumpkin seeds help in controlling blood sugar levels by decreasing oxidative stress. The seeds are also rich in digestible protein, which stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Promotes Weight Loss
More than half the world wants to lose weight and get fit. The tiny pumpkin seeds are densely rich in nutrients, which helps keep you fuller for longer. The seeds are high in fiber that keeps you satiated and stops you from binge eating.
Improves Hair Growth
Pumpkin seeds have cucurbitacin, which is a unique amino acid that helps in hair growth. These are also rich in vitamin C, which also plays an important role in hair growth. You can apply pumpkin seed oil on the scalp or consume a handful of pumpkin seeds daily to see results.
Rich in Antioxidants
Pumpkin seeds have antioxidants like vitamin E and carotenoids. These help in reducing inflammation and protect the cells from harmful free radicals. This in turn protects your body against various diseases. In a study conducted on rats, it was found that inflammation in rats with arthritis was reduced by giving them pumpkin seed oils. On the other hand, rats given anti-inflammatory drugs experienced negative side effects, while the rats given pumpkin seed oil experienced no side effects.
Lowers Your Risk of Certain Cancers
It has been found that diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been linked with a lower risk of stomach, lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Another study found that the consumption of pumpkin seeds reduces the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Pumpkin Seeds Benefit Sperm
Low zinc levels are linked with reduced sperm quality and increased risk of infertility in men. As pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, their consumption can help improve the quality of sperm. A study conducted on mice found that pumpkin seeds protect human sperm from damage caused by autoimmune disease and chemotherapy. The various antioxidants in the seeds improve the health of testosterone. All these factors together can help improve reproductive function in males.
28g Pumpkin Seed Nutrition Facts
- Calories: 126
- Fat: 5.5g
- Sodium: 5mg
- Carbohydrates: 15.2g
- Fiber: 5.2g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 5.3g
A single serving of pumpkin seeds provides 15.2 grams of carbohydrates, but only about 10 grams of net carbs since the serving also provides 5.2 grams of fiber.
A single serving of pumpkin seeds provides a little more than 5 grams of total fat. Most of the fat content in packaged products comes from fats added during the roasting process.
If you roast the seeds in one tablespoon of butter, add 102 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 2 milligrams of sodium.
If you roast the seeds in one tablespoon of olive oil, add 119 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 1.9 grams of saturated fat (but 10 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat).
Roasted pumpkin seeds provide 5.3 grams of protein per ounce.
Vitamins and Minerals
Pumpkin seeds contain essential minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. It’s important to note that there are 2,325 milligrams of sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt. Choose unsalted pumpkin seeds or use salt sparingly to avoid turning pumpkin seeds into a high-sodium snack.
Side Effects of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds cause stomach aches when consumed in huge quantities. It is a rich source of fatty oils, which on ingestion beyond acceptable levels, could cause stomach upset followed by cramps and pain. Just try eating a handful only at a time or eat it along with other foods to nullify this side effect.
Absence of Nutrients
You might be at risk of losing various nutrients if you do not consume these seeds the proper way. Overcooking or lack of chewing will actually deprive you of the benefits. Crisply cooked pumpkin seeds are devoid of water-soluble nutrients such as Vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C. If you are cooking these seeds, then keep the heat to the lowest possible level.
Not Good for People on Diuretic Drugs
Edema is commonly seen in people with renal disorders or certain cardiovascular issues. Studies suggest that these seeds possess innate mild diuretic powers, which in turn could interact with diuretic drugs, paving way for increased visits to the washroom. This might actually affect the mineral balance in your body. So, beware if you are on diuretic drugs!
Not Safe for Infants
Pumpkin seeds contain protein and iron in admirable quantities, making them a tempting snack for infants. However, being packed with fiber and fatty acids, these are not recommended for infants as they could trigger stomach cramps, pain, vomiting, and even diarrhea.
Not Safe for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women
There is no scientific evidence that supports the use or non-use of pumpkin seeds during pregnancy and the lactation period. However, it is good to stay on the safe side by ingesting only food amounts. It is advisable to avoid this side effect of pumpkin seeds during the pregnancy phase.
Allergy to Pumpkin Seeds
While these are not highly allergenic when compared to other seed varieties, certain allergic reactions could be triggered by using pumpkin seeds, with the skin being the primary target.
Here is what you can expect if you fall prey to pumpkin seed allergy:
- Eczema is characterized by scaly, inflamed, red skin.
- Itching and hives.
- Rhinoconjunctivitis with characteristic nasal congestion and sneezing.
- Allergic asthma.
- Obstructed breathing.
- Swelling and redness in and around the mouth.
- Throat irritation.
- Shortness of breath.
Fix an appointment with your physician quickly for verifying and take appropriate medications.
Not Safe for People with Hypoglycemia
Studies conducted on the goodness of pumpkin seeds suggest that these are ideal snack options for diabetics as they possess blood sugar-regulating potential. It actually lowers the glucose levels in the blood, thus preventing unwanted escalation. If you are on anti-diabetic medications or if you are hypoglycemic, then it would be advisable to include pumpkin seeds in your diet after consulting with your doctor.
Could Cause Unwanted Weight Gain
100 grams of pumpkin seeds give you a whopping 559 calories, with 49.05 g of fat [164% of the recommended daily allowance of fat]. So make sure that you eat this snack in moderation unless you want to gain weight. Obesity is the underlying reason for many health conditions, including hypertension and diabetes. So, check with your doctor, especially if you are on a weight-loss track before including these seeds in your diet.
Not Safe for People with Low Blood Pressure
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants by nature. This enables them to lower their blood pressure level. Hence, if you are suffering from hypotension or you are hypertensive on anti-hypertensive medications, then it is advisable to use the seeds after discussing the associated complications and risks with your doctor.
Pumpkin seed, in fact, is a healthy snack with a wide assortment of health benefits. However, these are also calorie and fat dunked delights. So exert caution with your portion sizes and stay safe from the side effects of pumpkin seeds.