Pumpkins are showing up everywhere this time of year, but let’s talk about those little superseeds inside the pumpkin. Did you know, a pumpkin can hold up to 500 nutrient dense seeds?! Pumpkin seeds (aka: pepitas) are a plant-based source of protein and heart-healthy fats, including beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Protein and Fat-Rich
If you're looking for more plant-based protein sources to include in your diet, pumpkin seeds are a great source. The types of fat in pumpkin seeds are heart-healthy fats, including beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Pumpkin seeds contain a number of different antioxidants, such as various forms of vitamin E, zinc, and manganese. These powerful antioxidant are good for the skin and can reduce inflammation. Zinc has also been shown to have immune-boosting properties.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, particularly by increasing the good HDL cholesterol. For postmenopausal women, the phytosterols are also beneficial for reducing hot flashes and joint pain.
Packed with Essential Minerals
If you’re looking for a seed high in the essential minerals pumpkin seeds are an excellent choice! In fact, ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body, including normal muscle and nerve function, blood pressure, and blood glucose control. Pumpkin seeds are also high in phosphorus, iron, zinc, and copper.
Pumpkin seeds have long been used for their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. These effects are thought to be due to the impact of the pumpkin seed proteins and phytonutrients, like lignans.
Tips for Including Pumpkin Seeds in Your Diet
Enjoy pumpkin seeds raw or roasted with a sprinkle of sea salt. Add them to granola, trail mix, cereals, oatmeal, homemade bars, vegetables or salads! Next time you use a nut/seed butter, try out pumpkin seed butter. It’s delicious straight out of the jar, on toast, waffles, or ice cream. Yum!
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
The World’s healthiest foods. Pumpkin seeds.
Gossell-Williams M et al. Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study. Climacteric. 2011 Oct; 14(5):58-64.