To many, pumpkin seeds are just something to throw away after pumpkin-carving — or something to plant in a half-hearted attempt to grow a few backyard pumpkins for the following year.
However, those who are aware of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds will realize that they don’t just have a Halloween decoration on their hands, but a nutrient-rich healthy snack that has been proven effective against a number of serious health conditions.
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious.
According to BBC Good Food, pumpkin seeds, aka pepitas, are chock-full of all sorts of dietary nutrients. A 28-gram serving size contains 7 grams of protein and 1.7 grams of fiber. Pumpkin seeds have about 13 grams of unsaturated fat per serving, which contains helpful omega-3 fatty acids. In terms of vitamins, pumpkin seeds contain significant amounts of vitamin B2, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, zinc, iron, choline, and beta-carotene.
Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants.
The beta-carotene and vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds are great sources of free radical-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants are the helpful little compounds that scientists have been going on and on about in recent years. They reduce inflammation and fight off disease. In fact, according to Healthline, one study indicated that pumpkin seed oil reduced the painful inflammatory effects of arthritis in rats better than an actual anti-inflammatory drug.
Pumpkin seeds help control blood sugar.
Pumpkin seeds are densely packed with plant-based protein and carbohydrates. According to Health, there is proof that eating pepitas can both protect against developing type 2 diabetes and reduce some of the complications associated with it. This is achieved through a combination of insulin regulation and the protection of blood vessels, limbs, eyes, and valuable organs like the heart or kidneys.
Pumpkin seeds regulate blood pressure.
In the same way that pumpkin seeds can protect blood vessels from the harmful effects of diabetes, they can also help regulate blood pressure when included as part of a healthy diet. According to BBC Good Food, the magnesium in pumpkin seeds can be combined with diet and exercise to keep blood pressure at safe levels. More research needs to be done, of course, but having healthy blood pressure is also a good way to stave off other effects of heart disease such as stroke.
Pumpkin seeds may improve sperm quality.
This might come as a shock to some folks, but did you know that pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil can help speed up your little swimmers? According to Health, the high levels of zinc found in pepitas can prove to be a powerful potion for male potency. Pumpkin seeds also foster good prostate health in general.
Pumpkin seeds have anti-cancer properties.
Pumpkin seeds aren’t just good for the prostate, they might even be helpful at combating prostate and breast cancer. According to WebMD, laboratory studies have shown that the antioxidant compounds found in pumpkin seeds inhibit the growth of breast and prostate cancer cells. These antioxidants are also capable of inducing apoptosis, which is essentially cancer cell death, though research is needed to determine their effect on cancerous cells found in other parts of the body.