Benefits of pumpkin seeds and how to roast them properly at home
Small seeds packed with valuable nutrients – pumpkin seeds. Eating pumpkin seeds can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, and especially magnesium and zinc.
Eating just a small amount of pumpkin seeds on daily basis is associated with several health benefits. They are good for all but especially beneficial for men. Eating pumpkin seeds is good for prostate health, they may improve sleep quality, heart health, and more.
We will go deeper into the health benefits of pumpkin seeds in this article, but not just that keep reading and find out are there any side effects of eating too much of them and how to roast pumpkin seeds at home (there are some things about the temperature that you should learn)!
Pumpkin seeds, or also called pepitas, the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash”. Pumpkin seeds were a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who used them both for their dietary and medicinal properties.
Interesting facts about pumpkin
- In the U.S. Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins
- Over 100,000 acres of U.S. farmland are planted with pumpkins
- The name pumpkin originated from “pepon” – the Greek word for “large melon”
- Pumpkins are 90% water
- The Guinness Worl Record for the heaviest pumpkin is 2,624.6 pounds
Before we find out why pumpkin seeds are good for you and what are the benefits of eating pumpkin seeds, let’s see what they contain, the nutrition data of these healthy, tiny edible seeds.
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Pumpkin seeds nutrition data
For 1 ounce (85 seeds) or 28 grams of whole roasted pumpkin seeds without salt the USDA provides the following nutrition data:
- Calories – 126
- Protein – 5.26 g
- Total lipid (fat) – 5.5 g
- Fiber – 5.22 g
- Carbohydrates – 15.2 g
- Sodium – 5.1mg
- Cholesterol – 0 mg
- Sugars – 0 g
- Magnesium – 74.3 mg
- Potassium – 261 mg
- Phosporus – 26.1 mg
- Zinc – 2.92 mg
Let’s go a little further with this nutrition data of whole roasted pumpkin seeds! When it comes to fats, we can see that a single serving of pumpkin seeds provides just a little more than 5 grams of total fat.
You must know that most of the fat content in packaged products comes from fats added during the roasting process:
- Olive oil – if you roast the seeds in one tablespoon of olive oil you’ll add 14 grams of fat, 1.9 grams of saturated fat ( but 10 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 1.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat).
- Butter – if you roast the seeds in one tablespoon of butter you’ll add 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 2 milligrams of sodium.
The amount of carbs in one serving of pumpkin seeds (28 grams) as we see from the nutrition data is 15.2 grams. The serving provides 5.2 grams of fiber and only 10 grams of “net carbs” (carbs that are absorbed by the body).
To calculate the net carbs in whole foods, subtract the fiber from the total number of carbs. To calculate the net carbs in processed foods, subtract the fiber and a portion of the sugar alcohols.
Minerals in pumpkin seeds: magnesium (high content), phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, calcium. Vitamins: vitamin C, riboflavin B2, niacin B3, vitamin A.
Sodium in whole roasted pumpkin seeds
One serving (28g) of whole roasted pumpkin seeds provides 5 milligrams of sodium. Choose unsalted pumpkin seeds or use salt sparingly to avoid turning the seeds into a high-sodium snack. In 1 teaspoon of table salt, there are 2,325 milligrams of sodium.
Pumpkin seeds benefits
May improve prostate health
Pumpkin seeds are good for all, but especially they are beneficial for men’s health. One of the amazing qualities of pumpkin seeds is the fact that they may support prostate health. Many men have problems with their prostate as they age. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that produces semen.
Pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms of BPH benign prostatic hyperplasia – a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges, causing urination problems. Many studies in humans found that eating pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms associated with BPH.
The results from a one-year study performed on 47 BPH patients with an average age of 53.3 years showed that pumpkin seed oil and a combination of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil may improve BPH symptoms.
A different study from 2014 found that pumpkin seed extract may improve urinary function. Forty-five volunteers, men, and female were enrolled in this study. Although the results from this study are preliminary and further study is needed, the results suggest that pumpkin seed oil extracted from C. maxima has the potential for the prevention or treatment of urinary disorders.
Another reason why men should eat more pumpkin seeds is the fact that they are rich in zinc, and zinc is critical for normal prostate function. In fact, a normal prostate has the highest levels of inc in the body. More studies are needed to link the zinc in pumpkin seeds to prostate health.
But eating a handful of pumpkin seeds several times a week may help keep your zinc levels optimal.
May improve sperm quality and help with erectile dysfunction
Pumpkin seeds have traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac in some places. Only in the United States erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million men, and it’s suggested that 40% of males have erectile problems at least occasionally. Also, low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men.
Zinc is required for the normal function of over 300 enzymes, but it’s especially important for men’s health. About 2-4 grams of zinc are distributed throughout the body: in the brain, muscles, kidney, bones, and liver, with the highest concentration in the prostate.
- Zinc improves testosterone and sperm production, it is necessary for the production of healthy, abundant, and potent sperm.
- Pumpkin seeds trigger the production of testosterone, with greater levels of testosterone comes increased sperm production.
Amino acid arginine present in pumpkin seeds helps manage erectile dysfunction. Arginine is converted in the body into nitric acid, the nitric acid widens and relaxes arteries and blood vessels, improving blood flow.
The amino acid lysine also presents in pumpkin seeds uses the same transport system as arginine, arginine availability can potentially be affected by lysine. Pumpkin seeds have the best arginine to lysine ratio.
Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc they may improve sperm quality and the presence of other nutrients and antioxidants can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health.
If you’re a man it’s going to be very beneficial to add pumpkin seeds into your diet. Pumpkin seeds are handy for promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostrate problems. The antioxidant content may also play a role in healthy testosterone levels.
High levels of magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral that is often lacking in the diets of many Western populations. One important health benefit of eating pumpkin seeds is that they are one of the best natural sources of magnesium.
Magnesium plays an important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body, including the metabolism of food and the synthesis of fatty acids and proteins. Adequate levels of magnesium are important for:
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Reducing heart disease risk
- Controlling blood pressure
- Maintaining healthy bones
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium for adults is 310-420 milligrams depending on age and gender. One cup or 64 grams of pumpkin seeds gives you 168 milligrams of magnesium which is about 40% of the RDA.
To maintain healthy magnesium levels, it’s best to get this mineral from food, especially high-fiber foods.
May improve heart and liver health
High, abnormal lipid levels are linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity. Eating foods that control the accumulation, metabolism, and excretion of lipids, like cholesterol, is the easiest way to avoid such disorders.
Pumpkin seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. This combination has benefits for both the heart and liver.
The fiber content in pumpkin seeds helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decreases the risk of heart disease.
A 12-week pilot study from 2011 in 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure by 7% and increased good HDL cholesterol levels by 16%.
Not just this, pumpkin seeds also contain sterols. Scientists found that there was 265 mg of total sterols in every 100 g of pumpkin seed kernel. Plant sterols and phytosterols are known to help reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
The strong anti-obesity effect of pumpkin seeds is attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamin-E derivates, and beta-carotene.
Can lower blood sugar levels
Several other studies have found that supplementing with pumpkin seed powder or juice reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
As we mentioned before pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, and several studies suggest that for every 100 milligrams a day increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15%.
However, more research is needed to confirm the beneficial effects of pumpkin seeds on blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan has been used to treat chronic insomnia, the zinc present in pumpkin seeds helps convert tryptophan to serotonin (“the feel-good” hormone) which is then changed into melatonin ( the “sleep hormone”).
A clinical trial from 2005 suggested that consuming tryptophan from a gourd seed with a carbohydrate source was comparable to pharmaceutical-grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium, and adequate magnesium levels have also been linked with better sleep.
Pumpkin seeds for sleep aid
If you have trouble sleeping you should try eating pumpkin seeds before bed. Having a few pumpkin seeds with a piece of fruit before bed may be beneficial in providing your body with the tryptophan needed for melatonin production.
Protecting and nourishing the skin
Pumpkin seeds and their oil are great skincare agents. These seeds are a good source of an antioxidant called squalene, which is similar to beta-carotene. Squalene plays a role in protecting the skin during UV and other types of radiation exposure.
Vitamin C and A in these seeds boost the production of collagen. Collagen is important because it helps in wound healing and keeps your skin young. The pumpkin seeds oil has beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, components that are potent anti-inflammatory agents.
Using pumpkin seed oil for skincare as a topical agent can treat blisters, acne, and also prevents fungal and bacterial infections when used as a scrub, lotion, or when massaged.
Improves hair growth
The fatty acids in these seeds aid in improving the texture of brittle and dry hair. Zinc is another factor that boosts the production of hair proteins.
The results from a study on the effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men showed that men who took 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil every day for 24 weeks saw a 40% increase in their hair growth.
Although more research is needed to confirm if pumpkin seed oil can treat hair loss, it’s a relatively safe natural treatment, and it can take several weeks before you see any results. Stop using pumpkin seed oil if you develop any symptoms of an allergy, such as redness or itching where you applied the oil.
Potential side effects of eating too many pumpkin seeds
Eating too many pumpkin seeds can have some undesirable side effects like intestinal gas and diarrhea.
Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, as you can see from the nutrition data of pumpkin seeds they contain over 5 grams from a 1-ounce serving of the whole variety, which means that some of their carbohydrates aren’t fully digestible.
When the undigested carbohydrates reach the large intestine, they’re broken down by bacteria. Gas is a byproduct of this process, particularly to people who aren’t accustomed to fiber-rich foods.
Eating more fiber than you are used to can also lead to loose stool. If you typically have diarrhea after eating pumpkin seeds you may have a food intolerance or sensitivity.
How to prevent these side effects?
Eating pumpkin seeds in moderation and drinking plenty of fluids can prevent digestive problems. One ounce is the standard amount for an individual serving.
How to prepare and roast pumpkin seeds
If you want to experience the benefits of pumpkin seeds, they are easy to incorporate into your diet. These seeds are a popular snack and can be eaten raw or roasted, salted, or unsalted.
You can of course purchase pumpkin seeds in the store, it’s recommended to purchase organic raw pumpkin seeds and then light-roast them yourself. But it’s also a fun and easy way to roast your own seeds from the pumpkin’s inner cavity.
Wash the seeds
You should wash the seeds that you’ve scooped from the pumpkin’s inner cavity, to do this put the seeds with the pulp on them in a large bowl of water and rub the pulp with your fingers, picking out the strings and clingy pumpkin bits.
Boiling the seeds in salted water
This step also helps to clean the seeds, but because pumpkin seeds don’t roast evenly the inside tends to get done faster than the shells, and they can burn easily in the middle before the shell is nice and toasty. To solve this problem simmer them in salty water for about 10 minutes.
Dry the seeds
Drying the seeds well is very important because if you leave them too wet the mixture won’t stick to the seeds, and drying the seeds before roasting helps them bake up crunchier. To do this drain the seeds and dry thoroughly with towels.
Coat them with oil and season to taste
After drying put them in a bowl and coat them with your favorite oil, melted butter, or cooking spray, also you can add sweet or savory flavorings.
Roast the seeds
Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them in a 160-1700F (about 750C) oven for 15-20 minutes. This 20-minute roasting limit is important.
When roasted for longer than 20 minutes, a number of unwanted changes in the fat structure of pumpkin seeds have been observed by food researchers. Roasting for no longer than 20 minutes will help you avoid these unwanted changes.
Let cool and store in an air-tight container
Season them as you like and enjoy! After cooling you can store the seeds in an airtight container for 1-2 months in your refrigerator, or at room temperature for up to a week.
Does roasting pumpkin seeds destroy nutrients? – When roasting the seeds you want to be careful to avoid excessive heat, which will destroy their nutritional value.
The unsaturated fats in pumpkin seeds will be better preserved by roasting at lower temperatures 160-170 F (75 C), roasting at higher temperatures will bring out the full-nut-like aromas and flavors, but they can lose some nutritional value.
To reap the benefits of pumpkin seeds you can eat them alone as a snack or added to dishes for extra taste and a crunchy texture.
- Make homemade granola with a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, and pumpkin seeds.
- Top salads with pumpkin seeds
- Sprinkle these seeds over porridge, breakfast cereals, and pasta.
- Grind pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley, and cilantro leaves. Mix with olive oil and lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
How much pumpkin seeds should I eat per day?
The American Heart Association recommends a quarter cup of daily intake of pumpkin seeds as part of an overall healthy diet, which is approximately 30 grams or 1-ounce of pumpkin seeds daily.
Raw or roasted pumpkin seeds? – Both raw and roasted pumpkin seeds offer health benefits, but raw pumpkin seeds offer more nutritional value because some of the nutrients are destroyed during the roasting process.
What are the benefits of eating pumpkin seeds and how to prepare and roast them at home – final thoughts
Including pumpkin seeds in your diet can have beneficial effects on the urinary tract, prostate, and fertility issues for men. They are also good for your skin and hair, may improve sleep quality.
These all benefits of pumpkin seeds come from their high content of fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, proteins, vitamins, and phytochemicals.
It is so easy to incorporate them into your diet. Use them as a snack and roast your own pumpkin seeds at home, but as we mentioned don’t use high temperatures when roasting them because they may lose some of their nutritional value.
They can be easily incorporated as an ingredient in different meals allowing you to reap their many positive effects.