7 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Fresh pumpkin seeds

Seeds can be a fantastic source of nutrition and pumpkin seeds are among the best. The pumpkin is a member of the squash family and it’s is native to North and Central America. Its seeds have been used by Native Americans for centuries to support urinary and digestive health. Just a single serving provides highly nutritious and necessary minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron. As an added bonus, pumpkin seeds are packed with potent antioxidants. Simply put, the excellent nutritional profile of pumpkin seeds has not only made them an integral part of natural health, it’s also garnered the attention of researchers who have looked deeper into the health benefits of pumpkin seeds. What have they found? Read on…

1. Support for BPH

Pumpkin seeds have been recommended by natural and alternative health practitioners to support prostate health and BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia). The German Council E (Germany’s equivalent to the FDA) approved it for this use in 1985. And a 2009 Korean study isolated pumpkin seed oil to evaluate their effect on BPH. They reported that the pumpkin seeds produced a significant improvement in urinary flow and participants reported an improved quality of life. [1]

2. Helps Balance Blood Sugar

Antioxidants are a potent source of phenols and antioxidant, this has caused led to it inquiries into its role in promoting balanced blood sugar levels — and the results have been positive. [2] Additionally, the proteins in pumpkin seeds seem to have an anti-hyperglycemic potential. One study determined a positive impact on balancing blood sugar levels as a result of the bioactive proteins. [3]

3. Toxic to Harmful Organisms

The US Pharmacopeia listed pumpkin seeds as a remedy for intestinal, harmful organisms until 1936. [4] Does that mean it really didn’t work? Not quite, researchers in China tested pumpkin reported positive results when testing pumpkin seeds against tapeworms. [5]

4. Nutritional Support for Cancer

Let’s be clear that pumpkin seeds are not a cure for cancer. However, it can’t be ignored that research into pumpkin seeds has described positive, nutritional effects for those with breast and prostate cancers. One 2012 study found a significant association between pumpkin seed consumption and promoting breast health. [6] Another study indicated the lignans in pumpkin seeds may offer further breast health support. [7] It doesn’t stop there, yet another study that examined a supplement containing pumpkin seeds reported positive potential for dealing with prostate cancer. [8]

5. Great for the Heart

The powerful phytochemicals and omega-3 fatty acids contained in pumpkin seeds have led researchers to explore its benefits for cardiovascular health. Studies have found diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid, offer protective effects against ventricular fibrillation, a primary cause of cardiac death. [9] That’s not all…

6. Promotes Healthy Cholesterol Levels

A double-blind, placebo-controlled 2011 study of postmenopausal women found pumpkin seed oil substantially promoted healthy cholesterol levels. The effects of the pumpkin seeds went beyond this one improvement — in addition to balanced cholesterol levels, the women taking pumpkin seeds also enjoyed healthy blood pressure. That’s not all…

7. Post Menopausal Benefits

They also experienced a decreased severity of hot flashes, fewer headaches and reduced joint discomfort. [10]

Eating Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are tasty by themselves, and they go great in a trail mix or salad. Pumpkin seed butter is another option that is delicious and lets you enjoy pumpkin seeds in new ways (spread on celery?). When shopping for pumpkin seeds, look for an organic, GMO-free option. If purchasing whole pumpkins, look for organic.

Got a favorite or creative way to enjoy pumpkin seeds? Leave a comment and share it with us!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Hong H, Kim CS, Maeng S. Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nutr Res Pract. 2009 Winter;3(4):323-7. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2009.3.4.323. Epub 2009 Dec 31.
  2. Kwon YI, Apostolidis E, Kim YC, Shetty K. Health benefits of traditional corn, beans, and pumpkin: in vitro studies for hyperglycemia and hypertension management. J Med Food. 2007 Jun;10(2):266-75.
  3. Teugwa CM, Boudjeko T, Tchinda BT, Mejiato PC, Zofou D. Anti-hyperglycaemic globulins from selected Cucurbitaceae seeds used as antidiabetic medicinal plants in Africa. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Mar 18;13:63. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-63.
  4. NYU Langone Medical Center. Pumpkin Seed. (last accessed 2013-08-26)
  5. Li T, Ito A, Chen X, Long C, Okamoto M, Raoul F, Giraudoux P, Yanagida T, Nakao M, Sako Y, Xiao N, Craig PS. Usefulness of pumpkin seeds combined with areca nut extract in community-based treatment of human taeniasis in northwest Sichuan Province, China. Acta Trop. 2012 Nov;124(2):152-7. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2012.08.002. Epub 2012 Aug 11.
  6. Zaineddin AK, Buck K, Vrieling A, Heinz J, Flesch-Janys D, Linseisen J, Chang-Claude J. The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(5):652-65. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.683227. Epub 2012 May 16.
  7. Richter D, Abarzua S, Chrobak M, Vrekoussis T, Weissenbacher T, Kuhn C, Schulze S, Kupka MS, Friese K, Briese V, Piechulla B, Makrigiannakis A, Jeschke U, Dian D. Effects of Phytoestrogen Extracts Isolated from Pumpkin Seeds on Estradiol Production and ER/PR Expression in Breast Cancer and Trophoblast Tumor Cells. Nutr Cancer. 2013 Jul;65(5):739-45. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2013.797000.
  8. Jiang J, Eliaz I, Sliva D. Suppression of growth and invasive behavior of human prostate cancer cells by ProstaCaid™: mechanism of activity. Int J Oncol. 2011 Jun;38(6):1675-82. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2011.996. Epub 2011 Apr 4.
  9. Risti-Medi D, Risti G, Tepsi V. [Alpha-linolenic acid and cardiovascular diseases]. Med Pregl. 2003;56 Suppl 1:19-25.
  10. Gossell-Williams M, Hyde C, Hunter T, Simms-Stewart D, Fletcher H, McGrowder D, Walters CA. Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study. Climacteric. 2011 Oct;14(5):558-64. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2011.563882. Epub 2011 May 5.

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  • Judy

    My blood pressure runs on the low side and seems to be easily dropped lower by natural things with any lowering effect. I learned the hard way not to take olive leaf extract. I tried taking pumpkin seed oil and also had problems with going too low. Does anyone know if the water-soluble extract of pumpkin seed has the same effect?

  • Dave

    Probably, unless the compound responsible for the effect is not water soluble.

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