by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Are you looking for a healthy snack that’s actually good for you? Look no further than pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients and are a great way to add some variety to your diet. They’re high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and make a satisfying, crunchy snack any time of day.
If you’re not already eating pumpkin seeds, now is the time to start! Here are seven benefits of pumpkin seeds that may convince you otherwise.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. Check with your doctor before adding pumpkin seeds to your nutrition plan to ensure they will not interact with any drugs or medications you may currently be taking.
1. Packed with Valuable Nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of nutrients, but they’re also pretty easy to grow! Pumpkin seeds are full of crucial nutrients, which is why you should give them a try.
One ounce of shell-free pumpkin seeds has around 151 calories, mainly from protein and fat.
In addition to that, 28 grams of pumpkin seed contains:
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Fat: 13 grams (6g of omega-6s)
- Copper: 19% of the RDI
- Iron: 23% of the RDI
- Zinc: 14% of the RDI
They also have plenty of antioxidants and a fair amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), potassium, and folate.
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil contain many other nutrients and plant compounds that have been shown to offer many health benefits.
2. Powerful Antioxidant
Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, which means they help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can result from exposure to pollution and other environmental factors, as well as from normal metabolic processes within the body.
Antioxidants counter this damage by neutralizing free radicals before they can cause any harm to the body. Antioxidants are particularly important for protecting cells from damage that leads to cancer and other diseases, including heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, and fatty acids — all of which may aid in keeping your heart healthy.
According to animal studies, it has been shown that pumpkin seed oil may decrease high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels — two essential risk factors for heart disease.
The fiber present in pumpkin seeds also decreases cholesterol levels, hence protecting the heart.
4. Anti-Cancer Properties
If consumed in reasonable amounts, pumpkin seeds may reduce the risk of gastric, breast, and colorectal cancers. These seeds contain powerful antioxidants, which is why they are so beneficial to the body. Pumpkin seeds contain carotenoids that prevent prostate cancer.
According to studies, diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been linked with a reduced risk of breast, lung, stomach, colon, and prostate cancers.
Large observational research found that consuming pumpkin seeds was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
5. Immunity Booster
Pumpkin seeds are beneficial for our immune system because of the presence of zinc and vitamin E.
Vitamin E improves immune responses and fights against several infectious diseases. It is also a very powerful antioxidant and prevents free radicals from destroying healthy cells in the body.
The zinc present in pumpkin seeds helps boost the immune system by enhancing the production of white blood cells that fight infections and diseases in the body.
Zinc also helps prevent infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses by boosting the production of interferon — an important compound that helps boost immunity against infections and diseases in the human body.
Pumpkin seeds exhibit antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.
6. May Help Improve Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which is a mineral that helps promote relaxation and sleep. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia, so it’s possible that pumpkin seeds may help improve sleep quality by increasing magnesium levels in the body.
If you cannot sleep properly, you may want to consume some pumpkin seeds before bed. They are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps promote sleep.
Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is said to help improve sleep.
7. Improves Bladder and Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds contain a plant compound called cucurbitacin E that has been shown to help treat prostate cancer cells. Cucurbitacin E helps prevent the growth of cancer cells in the prostate gland by blocking their ability to make new blood vessels. This stops them from spreading (metastasizing) throughout the body.
Zinc has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer and also helps to treat it if you already have it. Zinc also helps prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate gland enlargement, which can make urination difficult.