Pumpkin seeds: properties, benefits

Pumpkin seeds have numerous beneficial properties and have an excellent nutritional profile; let’s discover together the characteristics and benefits of pumpkin seeds.

Pumpkin seeds, these small oil seeds, are a very nutritious food and can boast a high nutritional value and numerous beneficial properties. Despite their size, pumpkin seeds are rich in properties and contain valuable nutrients such as good fats, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, magnesium and fiber.

These are edible seeds extracted from the pumpkin, flat, green in color and particularly nutritious, boasting a high nutritional value and numerous health benefits such as heart, prostate and protection from some types of tumors.

Pumpkin seeds: calories and nutritional values

Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and numerous other nutrients, as well as having a modest caloric intake (100 grams provide 559 calories). They also have a good content of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps improve mood and promotes night rest.

These foods are also rich in omega -6, omega-3 fatty acids and phytosterols. They also contain a good amount of dietary fiber, thanks to which they help the intestine to preserve natural regularity.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of pumpkin seeds:

  • Waterfall: 5.23 g
  • kcal: 559
  • Proteins: 30.23 g
  • Fat: 49.05 g
  • of which saturated: 8.659 g
  • Carbohydrates: 10.71 g
  • of which sugars: 1.4 g
  • Fibers: 6 g
  • Phosphorus: 1233 mg
  • Potassium: 809 mg
  • Choline: 63 mg
  • Tocopherol range: 35.1 mg
  • Glycemic index: 0-20
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Pumpkin seeds: nutritional properties

As we mentioned above, pumpkin seeds are very rich in minerals, especially magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and selenium. They also provide a good supply of vitamin E and folic acid, but are known above all for the content of cucurbitine, an amino acid with vermifuge properties; Pumpkin seeds, in fact, have been used since ancient times as a natural remedy against parasites that attack the intestine.

  • Magnesium: mineral necessary for more than 600 chemical reactions in our body such as controlling blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, building and maintaining healthy bones and regulating blood sugar;
  • Fiber: Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber that promotes good digestive health and reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity;
  • Zinc: essential mineral to ensure growth, the functionality of the immune system and the formation of genetic material. It also plays a very important role in the fertility of men and women. 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 7.8 mg of zinc;
  • Essential fats: pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated essential fat belonging to the Omega-6 family;
  • Folate (vitamin B9): essential vitamins both for men but especially for women during pregnancy and lactation as they are responsible for normal cell function, tissue growth, reduction of fatigue and the risk of fetal malformations;
  • Potassium: mineral involved in several important physiological processes such as blood pressure regulation, hydro-saline exchange, muscle contractility, cardiovascular health and the transmission of nerve impulses;
  • Phosphorus: one of the essential minerals for maintaining healthy bones and teeth and supporting the immune system;
  • Calcium: it is the most represented mineral in our body and participates in bone, muscle and nervous health;
  • Cucurbitina: as we have seen, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of cucurbitin, an amino acid with anti-inflammatory properties (particularly in the prostate) and vermifuge;
  • Antioxidants: the most represented in pumpkin seeds are carotenoids and vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) which act by reducing inflammation and protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Pumpkin seeds: health benefits

The components present, thanks to their synergy, give pumpkin seeds useful properties for health. In fact, it is known that their constant intake helps to keep the male urinary tract healthy by promoting prostate health and provides a tool to prevent cystitis. But the benefits of pumpkin seeds don’t end there. Let’s analyze them in detail.

✓ Antioxidant properties of pumpkin seeds

Thanks to the presence of antioxidant molecules, the consumption of pumpkin seeds is associated with the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation.

✓ Promote prostate health

Among the best known properties of pumpkin seeds are those related to the prostate. In fact, these seeds can relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged and can cause urination problems. Several human studies have shown that consuming these seeds works by reducing the symptoms associated with BPH.

A study of over 1,400 men examined the effects of consuming pumpkin seeds on BPH. After a year, men who supplemented their diet with pumpkin seeds reported reduced symptoms and improved quality of life.

✓ Benefits for the cardiovascular system

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and good fatty acids that work to keep the heart healthy. Animal studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can help reduce blood pressure levels and cholesterol levels, both risk factors for heart disease, thanks to the dilation of blood vessels which improves blood flow and reduces the risk growth of atherosclerotic plaques.

✓ Reduce blood sugar

Animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin juice would be able to lower blood sugar, which is particularly important for people with diabetes.

The hypoglycemic action would be determined by the high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds. A observational study involving more than 127,000 men and women found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in men and a 34% risk lower in women.

✓ They improve sperm quality

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, the mineral which, if deficient, is associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men.

✓ Improve sports performance

Pumpkin seeds are the ideal food for athletes as they are rich in zinc (helps prevent muscle cramps), polyunsaturated fatty acids (help reduce inflammation) and magnesium (prevents tiredness and exhaustion).

✓ Useful in cancer prevention

Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with a lower risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers. Notably, a large observational study found that their consumption was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Other studies suggest that the lignans found in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

How many pumpkin seeds to eat per day?

The consumption of pumpkin seeds must be placed in the context of a balanced and varied diet; therefore, the recommended daily quantity is around 10 grams (weight referred to the seed without peel), corresponding to the classic cooking spoon. Being rich in vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds are ideal for a mid-morning snack, although nothing prevents them from adapting them to the different meals of the day (using them, for example, to enrich salads).

Do you eat the peel of pumpkin seeds?

Although it is a rather unpleasant fraction from an organoleptic point of view, the peel of pumpkin seeds does not generally seem to create particular problems if consumed in very limited quantities. As with any other food, even the consumption of pumpkin seeds and all its parts will have to be adapted to subjective tolerance. In any case, it is advisable to remove the outer shell of the seeds, consuming only the greenish part present inside.

Pumpkin seeds: how to use, prepare and store them

The easiest way to consume pumpkin seeds is by munching them as a snack, but there are many other ways to add them to your diet as well, here are some tips:

  • Saute them in a pan together with your vegetables;
  • Add pumpkin seeds as an ingredient in homemade granola or muesli;
  • Enrich your salads and soups with pumpkin seeds;
  • For a tasty dressing: grind the pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and coriander leaves, finally add the oil and lemon juice;
  • Enrich a simple pumpkin seed yogurt;
  • Once ground, add them to your favorite smoothie;
  • You can enrich your baked goods (bread, biscuits, sweets ..) with pumpkin seeds;
  • Once ground, they will enrich your vegetable burgers or cold salads with nutrients.

To enjoy all the properties of pumpkin seeds (and oil seeds in general), it would be good to leave them to soak (overnight) to reduce the amount of phytates, improve their digestibility and the bioavailability of nutrients. When buying pumpkin seeds, it is preferable to check that they come from organic crops.

Dried pumpkin seeds can be stored in hermetically sealed glass jars, away from heat sources and direct sunlight. The chopped and / or ground seeds can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator, to avoid rancidity. If desired, pumpkin seeds can be frozen. To consume them in complete safety, make sure that the pumpkin seeds are not moist, rancid or moldy.

Pumpkin seeds: better roasted or raw?

After a drying phase, pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. However, it is preferable to lightly toast them in the oven or in a pan, in order to remove the outer shell and make them more crunchy and pleasant.

How to make homemade and toast pumpkin seeds

If you want to experiment with DIY, here’s how to prepare pumpkin seeds at home : extract the seeds contained in the pumpkin, together with the filaments that wrap them; free the seeds from the filaments and clean them with a dry cloth; place them on a baking sheet or on the baking tray, covered with baked meat, and let them dry for at least 12-15 hours, preferably for a couple of days. Put the pan with the pumpkin seeds in the oven at 180 ° C and let them toast until they appear golden, moving them at least two or three times; at this point, if desired, you can add salt, without exaggerating the quantity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly before storing.

Pumpkin seeds: contraindications and potential negative effects

Among the contraindications of pumpkin seeds we remember the action derived from the so-called antinutrients. Pumpkin seeds, in fact, like all plant seeds, contain antinutrient substances such as phytic acid which alter the absorption of nutrients, in particular iron and zinc. Soaking these foods considerably reduces the intake of phytates. Furthermore, in case of high blood pressure it is advisable to avoid salted pumpkin seeds and opt for the natural version. Finally, it is advisable to pay attention in case of allergy to nickel since, like all oil seeds, even pumpkin seeds contain a fair amount.


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