Pumpkin seeds are the flat, oval seeds found inside pumpkins. Also called pepitas, these seeds can be even more nutritious than the flesh of the pumpkin.
There are plenty of ways to add pumpkin seeds to one’s diet. Many individuals enjoy snacking on roasted, salty pumpkin seeds.
They can also be used as a crunchy salad topping, blended into pesto, baked into bread, pureed in a smoothie, or mixed into granola.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds do more than just taste delicious: they are also incredibly healthy! Get to know the major health benefits of pumpkin seeds now.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
The human body uses the bloodstream to transport glucose to cells that use it for energy. However, if the body cannot properly regulate glucose, the excess sugar can build up in the blood.
This causes many immediate issues, such as fatigue, nausea, and tingling, and having high blood sugar levels regularly for a long time can cause serious nerve damage and impair healing. Fortunately, pumpkin seeds can be a helpful way of controlling blood sugar.
Consuming any part of the pumpkin can lower blood sugar almost instantly. Research has even found it can have a significant effect on individuals dealing with type 2 diabetes.
The reason pumpkins seeds help lower blood sugar is due to magnesium. The seeds have unusually high levels of magnesium, which the body needs to properly regulate and metabolize sugar.
In fact, magnesium is so good at regulating blood sugar that a study found it lowered the risk of diabetes by thirty-three percent.
2. High in Fiber Content
Pumpkin seeds are incredibly high in fiber, so just a handful can provide almost half of the fiber individuals need each day. This substance is essentially an indigestible material that passes through the gastrointestinal system without being absorbed.
Though it does not have any nutritional content, fiber is still an essential part of maintaining health. As it travels through the gut, fiber pushes along waste products and helps keep the bowels moving.
This makes it much easier to have bowel movements, and it can also cut back on gas, bloating, and belching after a meal. Another reason fiber is helpful is it takes a while to move through the stomach and upper intestine.
This means individuals stay feeling full for longer instead of having their meal rapidly empty out of their stomach, so it can be beneficial for weight loss.
3. Reduces Risk of Certain Cancers
Several types of cancer may be affected by a diet high in pumpkin seeds. One study found postmenopausal women who ate pumpkin seeds had a reduced risk of breast cancer, which may be due to the high levels of lignans in the seeds.
Lignans are a type of polyphenol that alter the intestinal bacteria and mimic the effects of certain types of estrogen hormones. The seeds can also help with certain types of male-related cancers like prostate cancer.
Furthermore, pumpkin seeds help reduce the risk of colon and bowel cancer. This is due to the high levels of fiber that help remove waste products from the bowels. Eating a long of pumpkin seed also reduces the risk of certain cancers like stomach, lung, and endometrial cancer.
In general, these seeds are helpful with cancers related to either hormones or gastrointestinal issues.
4. Improves Bladder and Prostate Health
The prostate is a gland located near the male urethra that plays an important role in reproduction and urination.
A healthy prostate gland helps make the compounds needed for semen, but this gland tends to enlarge as men grow older, resulting in a blocked urethra and a heightened chance of bladder infections. Several studies have found eating pumpkin seeds is linked to reduced problems with prostate enlargement.
In addition to helping with prostate problems, pumpkin seed consumption is also linked to improved bladder function. The reason it improves bladder and prostate health is somewhat complicated.
Part of the seeds’ benefits are simply that they contain plenty of heart-healthy oils, and overall improved health and metabolism benefits the prostate. They are also a good source of zinc, a micronutrient that is absolutely essential for prostate health.
Finally, some of the compounds in pumpkin seeds block dihydrotestosterone, a type of testosterone metabolite that can cause health problems in high doses.
5. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Several different ingredients in pumpkin seeds are also linked to heart health. It contains healthy fats, and an intake of certain types of plant-based fats reduces an individual’s risk of heart disease.
The oil from pumpkin seeds mostly helps improve heart health by reducing blood pressure so it puts less stress on the veins and heart. Pumpkin also helps increase the production of nitric oxide in the body, and this important compound opens the blood vessels to help blood circulate more smoothly.
They naturally provide individuals with magnesium which further controls blood pressure and regulates heart rate. The high amounts of fiber in pumpkin seeds are yet another heart-healthy component.
Fiber has been linked to reduced cholesterol plaques, so blood vessels are less likely to get blocked.