If you’re like most people, you think of pumpkins in the fall when the weather starts to get cold and pumpkin spice is everywhere. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you should know that pumpkins can be enjoyed all year round. Not only do they make a great addition to your diet, they also offer many health benefits. Like most seeds, pumpkin seeds are high in protein, low in carbohydrates and contain no gluten. They can be harvested from pumpkins or bought at most supermarkets. In this article, we’ll discuss why pumpkin seeds are so good for you and some of the benefits they offer.
Pumpkin Seeds Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, a 1-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds contains 158 calories and the following nutrients (10):
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Protein: 9 grams
- Fat: 14 grams (6 of which are omega-6s)
- Phosphorus: 50% of the RDA
- Manganese: 56+% of the AI
- Magnesium: 40+% of the RDAI
- Iron: 14+% of the RDA
- Zinc: 20+% of the RDA
- Copper: 42% of the RDA
10 Health Benefits Of Pumpkin Seeds
Eating pumpkin seeds can offer a variety of health benefits, including:
Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. This is beneficial for people with conditions like arthritis, asthma and other autoimmune diseases (11).
Improving Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are high in healthy unsaturated fatty acids, which can help to improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels and improving blood circulation (11).
Regulating Blood Sugar Levels
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from diabetes or prediabetes (11).
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols which may help prevent certain types of cancer (11).
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Supporting Brain Health
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc, which is important for brain health. They might help to improve cognitive function and memory (11).
Reducing Stress Levels
Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. These seeds can also help you sleep better as they contain tryptophan, an amino acid which can help to promote sleep (11).
Helping With Weight Loss
Pumpkin seeds are a low-calorie food, and because they are high in protein and fiber, they can help to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss (6).
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, potassium and zinc, all of which are important minerals for bone health (12).
Reducing Symptoms Of Menopause
Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based estrogens. These can help to reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats (5).
Supporting Prostate Health
One of the pumpkin seeds benefits for men is they prevent disease. They are a good source of zinc, which is beneficial for prostate health. Adequate Zinc has been shown to possibly help reduce the risk of prostate cancer (13).
Raw Pumpkin Seeds Side Effects
As with any food, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects of eating pumpkin seeds.
Some people may experience gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain when eating large amounts of raw pumpkin seeds. The reason for this is that pumpkin seeds contain a high amount of fiber and phytic acid (8).
Pumpkin seeds also contain a compound called cucurbitacin, which can be toxic in high doses. So, if you are planning to eat a lot of pumpkin seeds, it’s important to stick to the recommended serving size.
If you’re experiencing any negative side effects after eating pumpkin seeds, try soaking them overnight before roasting them. This will help to reduce the amount of phytic acid present in the seeds and make them easier to digest (7).
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How To Eat Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways:
Roasted As A Snack
Pumpkin seeds are easy to roast. Simply preheat the oven to 350 F, mix the raw seeds with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Then bake them for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. You can also find pumpkin seed butter and use this as a dip or spread instead of nut butter.
Blended Into Smoothies
Pumpkin seeds can be blended into smoothies along with other healthy ingredients like avocado, kale and berries to create a nutrient-rich drink.
Added To Oatmeal And Porridge
Pumpkin seed meal is an excellent alternative for breadcrumbs or flour when making breads, pastas or baked goods. It contains protein and fiber which makes it a healthy addition to oatmeal or porridge.
As A Crumb Replacement In Recipes
Pumpkin seed meal can be used as an alternative to breadcrumbs when making recipes like meatballs, croquettes and fishcakes. It will add both flavor and texture to your dish.
Ground Into Seed Butter
Seed butter is easy to make at home by blending pumpkin seeds with melted coconut oil until smooth. You can use this seed butter in place of nut butter in most recipes, or you can simply serve it on toast or rice cakes for a delicious snack. You can also find pre-made pumpkin seed butters at the grocery store which are often sweetened with honey instead of sugar. This makes them a healthier option than nut butters.
As A Yogurt Topping And Salad Topping
Pumpkin seeds can be ground and sprinkled over yogurt or used as a crunchy salad topping.
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When Is The Best Time To Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
The best time to eat pumpkin seeds is either as a snack or in a meal. They are a good source of protein, fiber and minerals, so they make a filling and nutritious addition to your diet. If you’re trying to lose weight, eating them as part of a balanced diet can help to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.
If you’re having poor sleep or suffer from insomnia, eating pumpkin seeds before bed may help. This is because they contain tryptophan which helps to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.
How Much Of These Seeds Should You Eat?
Like most seeds, pumpkin seeds are high in fat. They contain approximately 50% fat, with a large proportion of this being monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are healthy fats.
However it’s important to be aware of serving sizes when trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although pumpkin seeds are high in protein and minerals, they do contain some phytic acid which can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb these nutrients.
Soaking the seeds overnight can help to reduce the amount of phytic acid present, but it’s still better to not eat too many in one sitting. A recommended serving size is one ounce or a handful.
How To Buy Pumpkin Seeds
When buying pumpkin seeds, it’s important to choose a brand that doesn’t roast them with too much oil or salt. This is because roasted pumpkin seeds are high in calories. Instead, look for raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds which you can roast yourself at home. You can also find pre-roasted pumpkin seeds in the store, but be aware that these are often salted or sweetened.
How To Store Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds will last for up to two months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. You can also freeze them for up to six months.
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Pumpkin Seed Recipes
You can prepare pumpkin seeds or use it as an ingredient in a number of recipes. Here are some of the best pumpkin seed recipes you can try out today:
Pumpkin Seed Cookies (9)
Yes, you read that right. You can use pumpkin seeds to make cookies. Here’s how:
- 120g butter, softened
- 75g light brown sugar
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 130g plain flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
- 50g toasted pumpkin seeds
- 150g dark chocolate, cut into chunks pinch of flaky sea salt
- Start by heating the oven to 180C then line two baking sheets with the parchment.
- Now cream the butter together with the sugars until they turn very light and fluffy.
- Beat in the vanilla and the eggs. Once they are fully combined, stir in the cocoa powder, flour, chocolate, bicarb ¼ teaspoon salt and pumpkin seeds.
- Next scoop 10 large tablespoons of the resulting mixture onto the trays. Ensure you leave enough space between them to allow for spreading.
- Add a pinch of flaky sea salt. Bake for about 10-12 mins or until the edges turn just firm with the middle still soft (this part will harden a little as it cools).
- Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes then eat while it’s still warm. Alternatively you can transfer them on a wire rack and let them cool completely.
This recipe is courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com
Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (4)
Have you been looking for a quick nutritious snack? Well, this may just be it for you. The best part about easy roasted pumpkin seeds is that you can use just about anything from your spice cabinet for seasoning! Here’s what you need:
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons of your favorite spice e.g., curry powder, chili powder and harissa
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, melted coconut oil or nut oil like walnut
- Start by heating your oven to 350 degrees F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Now add about 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil.
- Scoop your pumpkin seeds and add them to a bowl filled with cold water. Swirl them around until the seeds start floating and are mostly clean.
- Add the just cleaned seeds to the boiling, salted water and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain away the excess water.
- Next scatter the seeds on clean dishcloths then pat them until they’re very dry. Place the seeds on the prepared baking sheet.
- Add the olive oil and desired spices on top of the seeds and toss until they’re well coated. Spread the seeds on one layer.
- Bake for about 10 to 25 minutes (depending on the seed size), while stirring the seeds periodically until they turn golden around their edges and start emitting a fragrance. Serve.
This recipe is courtesy of inspiredtaste.net
Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds (3)
This is an excellent treat if you’re looking for something quick and nutritious. You can serve it immediately while it’s still warm or later after it’s cooled. Here’s how you make it:
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Start by preheating your oven to 300 degrees F.
- Next, mix together the cinnamon, butter and salt in a bowl.
- Now add the pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Pour the butter mixture over the seeds and toss them until they are evenly coated.
- Spread the coated seeds onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes while stirring periodically until the seeds are browned slightly.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle sugar over the seeds. Stir until they’re evenly coated.
This recipe is courtesy of allrecipes.com
Caramelized Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (2)
Are you looking for something sweet and spicy? If you are, then you’re in luck. These caramelized spicy pumpkin seeds deliver more flavor than any other pumpkin seeds. Here’s how you make them:
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
- Cooking spray
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Start by preheating your oven to 300 degrees F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Next, mix and stir together the cumin, cinnamon,cayenne pepper, ginger and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl and set it aside.
- Now place the pumpkin seeds on the already prepared baking sheet and spray them with the cooking spray. Sprinkle the salt to taste.
- Bake the seeds for about 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven until they turn lightly golden.
- Add the oil in a large nonstick skillet and heat it over medium heat. Stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds alongside 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Continue cooking and stirring for about 2 to 3 minutes until the sugar forms a coating of the seeds.
- Stir the caramelized seeds into the bowl containing sugar-spice mixture and toss it to coat. Let it cool and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of allrecipes.com
Maple Chili Powder Pumpkin Seed (1)
- 2 cups pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix all the ingredients and spread them in a single layer on the already prepared sheet plan.
- Bake for about 20 minutes periodically mixing the mixture in 10-minute intervals. The seeds should turn crunchy and golden after this.
This recipe is courtesy of swankyrecipes.com
The Bottom Line
Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious and healthy snack that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. They are high in protein, fiber and minerals, and they make a great addition to a balanced diet.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 Pumpkin Seed Recipes (n.d., swankyrecipes.com)
- Caramelized Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (n.d., allrecipes.com)
- Cinnamon Toast Pumpkin Seeds (n.d., allrecipes.com)
- Easy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (n.d., inspiredtaste.net)
- Efficacy of phytoestrogen for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review (2015, nih.gov)
- Fiber Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) study (2019, nih.gov)
- Isolation and Identification of two Cucurbitacins B and E , and Detection of Phytosterols in Cucurbita pepo L. var. Pepo (Pumpkin) Leaves Extract (2020, researchgate.net)
- PUMPKIN: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews (n.d., webmed.com)
- Pumpkin seed cookies (2017, bbcgoodfood.com)
- Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, dried (2019, usda.gov)
- The potential of pumpkin seeds as a functional food ingredient: A review (2020, sciencedirect.com)
- The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z (2006, pubmed.gov)
- Zinc and prostate cancer (2014, nih.gov)