I have a feeling not many people like pumpkin, especially youngster. I didn’t when I was younger. Not too long ago, I baked a roasted pumpkin cauliflower pie for my nieces on Christmas Day and it wasn’t well-received. My bad for not asking if they like pumpkin. Anyway, pumpkin has impressive health benefits but if you don’t like it, consider pumpkin seeds. There are several health benefits for eating pumpkin seeds you should know. It is never too late to introduce this to your diet. Perhaps later, you may like pumpkin itself. Read on.
What Is Pumpkin Seeds
A short introduction is necessary.
Pumpkin seeds are edible seeds that come from pumpkin, a fruit from the squash family. Flat and dark green in colour, pumpkin seeds is subtly sweet with a nutty flavour and a chewy texture.
They are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, also referred to as pepitas, Spanish for “little seed of squash”.
If you are from where I am, Malaysia, pumpkin seeds are called “White Kuaci” by the Malaysian Chinese. These “kuaci” are usually sold unshelled, encased in a yellow-white husk.
Nowadays, pumpkin seeds are available for purchase in various forms. They can be raw and shelled, raw and unshelled, roasted and shelled, roasted and unshelled.
In this post, I’m referring to dark green raw shelled pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Seeds Nutrition Facts In Brief
A 1-ounce (28g) serving of pumpkin seeds give you
- Total Fat: 14g => 18% Daily Value* (DV) out of which 6g is Omega-6
- Total Carbohydrate: 3g => 1% DV and contain mostly dietary fibre at 1.7g
- Protein: 8.6g => 17% DV
*The Daily Value (DV) percentage tells you how much a nutrient contributes to your daily diet in a serving.
The minerals content is quite impressive especially the following
- Copper – 42% DV
- Magnesium – 42% DV
- Manganese – 56% DV
- Phosphorus – 50%DV
- Zinc – 20% DV
Vitamins found in pumpkin seeds are Vitamin E and Vitamin B2 (riboflavin).
What is Pumpkin Seeds Good For
Generally, seeds are considered excellent sources of magnesium, potassium and calcium. Plant seeds, in particular, are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant.
In this case, the fatty acids in pumpkin seeds contain a range of beneficial nutrients, such as sterols, squalene, and tocopherols. Researchers concluded with a favourable fatty acid profile predominantly unsaturated (1). This is “good fats”.
Read on to find out how these components benefit your health.
1. Fight Oxidative Stress & Reduce Inflammation
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in the form of Vitamin E.
Antioxidants protect your cells from harmful free radicals which is the root cause of many diseases including cardiovascular disease that involves the heart and blood vessels.
That’s why consuming foods rich in Vitamin E can help protect against many diseases and reduce inflammation.
2. Support Bone Health
Magnesium is important for bone formation and pumpkin seeds contributes 42% of the daily value in a 28g serving. An adult body contains approximately 2g magnesium, with 50% to 60% present in the bones. Greater bone density decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
Magnesium also plays an active role in transporting calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes. This process is important to muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm.
Phosphorus is another mineral that’s important in the formation of bones and teeth. It is needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.
Also, phosphorus helps the body make ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Pumpkin seeds provide 50% of the daily value in a 28g serving.
3. Boost Heart Health
A study concluded that high magnesium intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease risk factors mainly metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. This puts you at greater risk of getting heart disease, stroke and other conditions that affect the blood vessels.
4. Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Still on the topic of magnesium. If you are struggling to control your blood sugar levels, the high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may help.
A study covering over 127,000 people found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 34% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women and 33% lower risk in men.
5. Enhance Digestive Health & Support Weight Loss
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fibre.
A diet high in fibre not only promotes good digestive health but has been reported to have a positive effect on health including lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and obesity (1).
High fibre food also makes you feel fuller longer on fewer calories. Great for weight watchers.
6. May Help Improve Sleep
Are you having trouble sleeping? You need to know this.
Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep. A study shows that L-tryptophan in doses of 1g or more produces an increase in rated subjective sleepiness and a decrease in sleep latency. Sleep latency is the amount of time it takes you to go from being fully awake to sleeping.
A 28g serving of pumpkin seeds gives you 58% DV of tryptophan.
Zinc in pumpkin seeds can also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
Do you still remember the magnesium content in pumpkin seeds? Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep (1).
In brief, pumpkin seeds, a good source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium, all of this help promote good sleep.
7. May Reduce Risk of Certain Cancer
A diet rich in pumpkin seeds has been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers.
A control-study in German postmenopausal women was used to evaluate the association of phytoestrogen-rich foods and dietary lignans with breast cancer risk. The result provided evidence for a reduced postmenopausal breast cancer risk associated with increased consumption of pumpkin seeds together with sunflower seeds and soybeans.
In a Nutshell
Pumpkin seeds may be small but they’re packed full of valuable nutrients.
Its mineral contents are abundant, providing you about half the daily value needed in copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. These minerals are needed to support your health including bone and heart health and control your blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which help in fighting oxidative stress while reducing inflammation. These are root causes for many modern-day diseases especially cardiovascular disease.
If you have difficulty falling asleep at night, the components in pumpkin seeds can help. And, its fibre content helps ease constipation as well as weight control.
Now that you’re aware of the various health benefits eating pumpkin seeds, what do you think? How about switching over to a healthy snack of pumpkin seeds rather than nibbling on fried snacks? Let us know in the comments section below.
I have explained at the beginning of this article what pumpkin seeds is and I like to remind you here the pumpkin seeds I’m referring are the flat, oval dark green seeds of pumpkin, without their shell. Most often referred to as pepitas and not those “White Kuaci” you’re familiar with if you’re from Malaysia. So, if you’re buying, take note of not getting the wrong one.
If you like to buy pumpkin seeds online, consider using this affiliate link* – shop on Amazon (for US shoppers). There is an excellent selection with good customer reviews.
For my fellow Malaysians, use my affiliate link* to buy on Shopee or Lazada. The selection is wider on Shoppe but if you’re used to buying on Lazada, there’s a few with good reviews. Click on the link. It will take you directly to the page.
*I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to enjoy a cup of coffee while writing and share more articles like this one.
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Happy shopping and thanks for reading.
Me YourHealthy Corner – Stay in good health, healthy eating habits
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.