It’s peak pumpkin season, and we’d like to remind you of one part of the pumpkin that sticks around all year but often goes unnoticed - pumpkin seeds. Not only are these seeds easy to add to your diet, but they also pack a hefty punch in terms of nutrition. Just a handful of these seeds can really help your hair stay strong and luscious, maintain immune health, and protect you from heart disease and blood sugar spikes, to name a few examples. Below we list 8 such important scientifically-proven health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
1. Contain rare and difficult-to-get nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients that are otherwise pretty difficult to get from other foods, such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. In fact, these seeds are considered to be the best natural source of magnesium, a mineral of which about 79% of American adults don’t get enough.
While most of you will know that magnesium has a very soothing and de-stressing effect on the body and you may even enjoy an Epsom salt bath that contains magnesium from time to time, the mineral actually does a lot more than just relax the muscles. In fact, it plays a role in 600 chemical reactions in the human body and is essential for your cardiovascular health. Just 1 ounce of the seeds will provide an adult with 37% of their daily magnesium needs.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are a genius snack for those who are losing weight, as they’re very low in carbs but high in both protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Speaking of fats, nearly half of the fats present in pumpkin seeds are omega-6 fatty acids, which are known to reduce heart disease and help clear up “bad” (LDL) cholesterol from the arteries.
Finally, pumpkin seeds are quite rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids and vitamin E, which are known to reduce the level of inflammation in the body and thereby help prevent several age-related diseases and lessen the development of existing health conditions without any side effects. In one study, for example, rats with arthritis were given pumpkin seed oil, which reduced the inflammation, and unlike anti-inflammatory drugs that were likewise effective, the oil didn’t cause any observed side effects in the animals.
Therefore, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil can really help maintain your long-term health and is a valuable and easy addition to one’s daily diet. And when we say easy, it really is, as tossing in a handful on the seeds to garnish salads, soups, stir-frys, and even a bowl of granola or oatmeal couldn’t be easier.
2. Can boost immune health
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, fiber, and iron, all of which play an important role in our immune health. In addition, pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory benefits due to a high amount of vitamin E and other antioxidants, which help the immune work more efficiently. Lastly, pumpkin seeds are said to also possess antiviral and antifungal properties, so eating these seeds on a regular basis will ensure that your immune system is working at its best capacity all the time.
3. Improve hair growth
Fatty acids and vitamin E are essential for healthy and strong hair, so it’s hardly surprising that pumpkin seeds, which have plenty of both of these nutrients will likewise be beneficial for hair health. Moreover, a 2019 study even found that applying pure pumpkin seed oil onto the scalp promotes hair growth and may help treat male pattern baldness. It’s best to apply just a few drops of the oil onto the scalp at night and wait for a few minutes for it to absorb before going to bed.
4. Prevents the development of some cancers
Both pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are good for promoting long-term health, and particularly at deterring certain kinds of cancer, such as breast, stomach, prostate, lung, and colon cancers in particular according to research. Postmenopausal women may especially benefit from eating more pumpkin seeds, as one German study observed a reduced risk of breast cancer among women in their 40s and older if they consumed pumpkin seeds. Moreover, pumpkin seeds may even be beneficial at slowing down the development of some cancers according to in-vitro studies on prostate cancer cells.
5. Helps maintain bladder and prostate health
It seems like pumpkin seeds may be beneficial for the prostate overall. In particular, we have good evidence to show that eating pumpkin seeds regularly can improve the quality of life and significantly reduce the symptoms of a prostate condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is when the prostate gland grows bigger and makes urination more difficult. One study looked at 1,400 men with the condition who were asked to take 320 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily over the course of a year, and it helped reduce their symptoms.
There is also evidence showing that pumpkin oil supplements and pumpkin seeds can improve the symptoms of an overactive bladder, but there is not enough research is present at this moment to substantiate that claim.
6. Lower blood sugar levels
Spikes in blood sugar are responsible for a number of unpleasant symptoms and conditions, and diabetics are obviously struggling the most with high blood sugar levels, and for them, it's extremely important to have an arsenal of foods that can help them prevent blood sugar spikes. One such food may be everything pumpkin - the vegetable itself, as well as pumpkin seeds, pumpkin juice, and pumpkin oil.
We have known that pumpkin seeds have a blood sugar lowering effect on the animals we've studied for years, and researchers believe that the high magnesium content may be responsible for the beneficial effect. More recently, human trials have also started confirming it, finding that drinking pumpkin juice or pumpkin seed powder is capable of lowering sugar levels among type 2 diabetes sufferers. One such study looking at 127,000 participants found that getting plenty of magnesium can even lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in men by 33%, and by 34% in women.
7. Offer cardiovascular benefits
The nutrient cocktail that consists of vitamin E, carotenoids, zinc, magnesium, and omega-6 fats and is naturally present in pumpkin seeds is exceptionally effective at lowering the blood pressure and the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Pumpkin seeds naturally increase the amount of "good" (HDL) cholesterol in the blood, which, in turn, decreases the amount of the "bad" cholesterol and lowers the blood pressure by clearing up cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels. According to one article, a pumpkin seed oil supplement helped postmenopausal women reduce the bottom blood pressure reading by 7% in just 3 months, and it also helped increase the levels of “good” cholesterol by 16%.
8. Improve sleep
Having trouble getting enough shuteye at night? If so, try eating more pumpkin seeds or pumpkin in general throughout the day. The seeds are a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is crucial for producing melatonin, the sleep hormone that's necessary for us to be sleepy and sleep well. Also, the magnesium present in pumpkin seeds can likewise promote relaxation and better sleep. Therefore, pumpkin seeds are a great snack to eat in order to restore our natural sleep-wake cycles.
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