Recently, many people have been asking the question: can pumpkin seeds help you lose weight? For some reason, this type of seed has become a symbol for weight loss and dieting. There are several reasons why pumpkin seeds might be good for your health in general and your weight specifically. Let’s explore these!
What Are Pumpkin Seeds And What Do They Have To Do With Weight Loss?
Pumpkin seeds are generally small and have a hard shell, which is often used in making jewelry. However, behind that hard shell, there is an edible kernel that many sources say can help with weight loss when consumed.
The pumpkin seeds weight loss myth has been around for ages. It’s not clear why some people think that they can eat a lot of them and still lose weight. In fact, some cultures actually believe that pumpkin seeds promote healthy hair growth because of the chemical compounds in these little treats.
The truth is that there is no scientific evidence for the link between raw pumpkin seeds and weight loss. There are some people who believe this myth because they simply love the taste of these seeds and feel like eating them satisfies their appetite for a long time. Others actually think that pumpkin seeds are a low-calorie food, but this isn’t true at all. As with other nuts and seeds, pumpkin seeds contain a substantial amount of (healthy) fat and a number of calories in a small serving.
How Many Calories Are In A Pound Of Pumpkin Seeds?
Many people enjoy eating pumpkin seeds in mass quantities because of their unique flavor and crunchy texture. It’s actually a whole lot more fun than just eating an apple! However, if you’re on a calorie-restricted diet these little treats can take up a large allowance of your daily calorie consumption.
To best complement a weight loss diet, choose raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds either with or without their shells. These seeds can be added to a number of dishes or eaten on their own as a healthy snack.
Why Are Pumpkin Seeds Good For You?
Below are several health benefits of pumpkin seeds for weight loss and overall wellness:
Source Of Fiber
Pumpkin seeds contain a good amount of fiber, which is needed for proper digestion. It helps move food more quickly through your digestive system. It can do this by absorbing water as it moves through the body and softening stools–they become bulkier and softer. In addition to this, fiber helps contribute to a feeling of fullness and satiety that can help with weight loss.
The average daily intake of fiber recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is 25 grams per day Children between 1-8 years old should consume around 21 grams every day; those who are 9-13 years old need to consume between 26-29 grams of fiber every day; and adults should get around 30-38 grams of fiber each day (9).
Pumpkin seeds contain about 12 grams of fiber per cup, and The American Heart Association recommends a quarter cup of daily intake of pumpkin seeds as part of an overall healthy diet (14).
Helps Fight Cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds contain a type of fat called “alpha-linolenic acid.” This special fatty acid is converted by the body into an “omega-3” fatty acid called “EPA.” Research has shown that this can help lower bad cholesterol levels, and raise good levels (19).
To get the benefits, eat about 1/2 cup of raw hulled (shelled) seeds per week. It’s better to buy raw pumpkin seeds than roasted varieties because roasting reduces levels of alpha-linolenic acid.
In one study, people who ate about 1 ounce a day of pumpkin seeds for three months had significant reductions in LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. The effect remained even after they stopped eating the seeds (3).
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Reduce Risk Of Colon Cancer
Pumpkin seeds may also help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Researchers found that feeding rats a diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid helped prevent precancerous lesions from forming in their colons. And pumpkin seed oil has been shown to have some of the same properties (14).
Good Source Of Phosphorus
Phosphorus is an important mineral that keeps the body’s hormones and enzymes in balance. Studies show that a phosphorus deficiency can affect your body’s metabolism, which could lead to weight gain. A lack of this essential nutrient also leads to heart disease, muscle weakness, bone loss, and other problems (4).
Excellent Source Of Magnesium
Pumpkin seeds contain a lot of magnesium, which is an important mineral for the body and good for bones overall. Some people use magnesium to help alleviate muscle cramps and soreness because magnesium deficiency can be a cause of muscle cramps (8).
Source Of Beta-Sitosterol
Pumpkin seeds may help keep your cholesterol levels down because they contain beta-sitosterol, which at least one study has shown to be effective at keeping bad cholesterol under control (2). Exercising regularly and eating pumpkin seeds is an excellent cholesterol-lowering plan that could work for you.
Source Of Vitamin K
Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of Vitamin K, which helps your bones and cardiovascular system. Having more vitamin K in your diet might also help you lose weight because it may improve the strength and elasticity of your muscles as well (14). Just make sure to drink water every day, which will help you stay healthy and lose weight.
How To Incorporate Pumpkin Seeds Into Your Diet?
If you’re trying to find out how to eat pumpkin seeds for weight loss, the best way is to make them a part of a healthy diet. Pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed in a number of ways, such as:
- Raw in a homemade trail mix.
- Roasted with some olive oil and salt.
- Pumpkin seed butter blended in a food processor until smooth.
- Cooked in a stir-fry.
- Baked whole into muffins or bread.
- Frozen into a pumpkin pie.
- Used to garnish cakes and desserts.
- Spread on toast or crackers with cheese.
- Ground up and stirred into baked goods for extra protein or nutrition.
- In place of pine nuts when making curries, pilafs, pesto and sauces.
- Stirred whole into just about any salad for a welcome crunch.
Healthy Pumpkin Seed Recipes To Include In Your Diet
Pumpkin seeds are a versatile ingredient that can make delicious smoothies, desserts, soups, and more. Here are some ideas for you to try out.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Crunchy with just a bit of salt, a bowl of simple pumpkins are autumn’s most underrated snack. And if you’ve made your jack-o-lantern already, you know you have plenty of leftover pumpkin seeds.
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Start by either cutting the pumpkin in half or the top of it.
- Now scoop out the seeds using a spoon and transfer them to a large bowl of water.
- Next, remove the loose seeds that will be floating and separate then discard the pulp in the remaining seeds.
- Now rinse these seeds in a colander then drain and pat them dry with dishtowels.
- Put the clean seeds in a baking sheet and bake them at about 250 degrees fahrenheit until dry for about an hour.
- Now season it with salt, toss it with olive oil and roast it at about 350 degrees fahrenheit. Keep tossing it occasionally until it becomes golden brown and crisp. This should take about 20 minutes.
Get the recipe here
Pumpkin Seed Banana Muffins
Enjoy pumpkin seeds as the highlight of this moist, flavorful muffin. Pick up some of your favorite seasonal spices for an extra kick.
- 1.25 cups of sugar
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ cup of psyllium
- 1 cup of oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2.5 cups of mashed bananas
- 6 tablespoons of yogurt
- ¼ cup of brown sugar for sprinkling at the top
- Preheat your oven to about 190 degrees celsius.
- Next, put in the oven muffin liners for 24 muffins.
- Now mix and stir the flour, pumpkin seeds, baking powder and sugar together in a bowl.
- Whisk the eggs, oil, mashed bananas and yogurt in another bowl until well blended.
- Add these two mixtures together until they are creamy and evenly combined.
- Now spoon batter in every muffin cup to almost the halfway level and sprinkle sugar over them for a crunchy top.
- Bake them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. They should have a golden, springy to touch and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Finish off by cooling on a wire rack.
Get the recipe here
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Pumpkin Seed Avocado Dip
Avocados and pumpkin seeds make a delectable combination in this dip. Serve it with fresh cut veggies or your favorite crackers.
- 2 skinned and pitted avocados
- 1.5 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
- ⅓ cup of pumpkin seeds
- ¼ tablespoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of toasted and whole pumpkin seeds to be used as garnish
- Use medium heat to preheat a small skillet then add pumpkin seeds. Ensure you keep tossing them around in the pan since they burn fast once they start cooking. They’ll give out a toasty smell and slightly start turning brown and popping when ready.
- Cool the pumpkin seeds. Remove about 2 tablespoons which will be used for garnishing then chop the remaining.
- Now mix and mash all the ingredients excluding the pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl. Add the chopped seeds and stir.
- Add salt to taste.
- Put them in a smaller bowl and garnish with whole pumpkin seeds.
Get the recipe here
Festive Pumpkin Seed Cake With Caramel Glaze
This Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Glaze and Candied Pumpkin Seeds is moist, sweet and wholesome. It makes a nice festive fall presentation, without fussy decoration. Perfect for most occasions. It’s made with oatmeal and molasses, so it’s sweet with a deep flavor profile.
- 1 cup of flour
- 1.5 cups of oatmeal
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup of unsulfured molasses
- ¼ cup of canola oil
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- Start by preheating your oven to about 350 degrees. Also, coat your bundt pan using a non-stick spray.
- Now place the oatmeal in a food processor and let it pulse until its ground to flour texture.
- Next add the baking powder, spices, baking soda and flour and pulse to mix.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix it with vanilla extract.
- Add brown sugar, oil, molasses and pumpkin then mix well.
- Now add the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
- Pour batter into the bundt pan and let it bake for about 40-45 minutes.
- Let it cool on a baking rack.
- Pour glaze over the cake and top it with seeds.
Get the recipe here
Pumpkin Seed And Chia Energy Bars
These no-bake energy bars are packed with protein and fiber to keep you full until your next meal. Plus, pumpkin seeds provide essential nutrients like magnesium that can improve your mood, as well as Omega 3s for heart health.
- ½ cup of raw pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup of raw sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup of sesame seeds
- 1 heaping cup large flaked unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup of chia seeds
- ¼ cup of flax seeds
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup honey
- Start by preheating your oven to about 325 degrees fahrenheit.
- Use a medium bowl to mix the salt and seeds together. Now stir them in vanilla and warm honey until they are well combined.
- Put a piece of parchment in a baking pan size 8 x 8. Lightly spray it with oil.
- Next pour the deed in the lightly greased and parchment-lined pan. Use a wet metal spatula to spread it into the corners and edges. Now firmly press it down till you have a well compacted, smooth surface at a uniform depth.
- Put it on the middle rack of the oven and let it bake for 40-55 minutes. Check it at 25 minutes and lower the heat to 300F if the edges are too brown. Also, for a chewy consistency, remove after 40-45 minutes. For a crisp-crunchy consistency, remove after 50-55 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool.
Get the recipe here
The Bottom Line
Can you eat raw pumpkin seeds? Yes. Will that alone make you lose weight? No. In fact, without moderation, you risk gaining weight because these seeds are high in fats and calories. To get the most benefit out of pumpkin seeds, make them a part of a healthy diet along with regular exercise.
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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!
- Banana and Pumpkin Seed Muffins (n.d., bigoven.com)
- Cholesterol-lowering efficacy of a sitostanol-containing phytosterol mixture with a prudent diet in hyperlipidemic men (1999, oup.com)
- Consumption of Plant Seeds and Cardiovascular Health: Epidemiologic and Clinical Trial Evidence (2014, nih.gov)
- Dietary phosphorus intake and health (2013, oup.com)
- Easy Homemade Pepita Guacamole (n.d., eatsimplefood.com)
- How to make seed bars (2018, feastingathome.com)
- How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds the Right Way (2020, goodhousekeeping.com)
- Magnesium (n.d., harvard.edu)
- Nutrient Intake From Food (2010, usda.gov)
- OATMEAL-MOLASSES PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CARAMEL GLAZE AND CANDIED PUMPKIN SEED TOPPING (2020, momfoodie.com)
- Pumpkin seeds, salted (2020, usda.gov)
- Pumpkin seeds pack a healthy punch (2018, heart.org)
- The Differential Effects of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid on cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review (2018, nih.gov)