A fall favorite that’s delicious any time of year, pumpkin seeds are tiny little wonders that can do a lot of good when incorporated into a healthy diet. Whether they’re store-bought or freshly scooped out of the meaty insides of a ripe pumpkin, the seeds have a sweet yet nutty flavor that stands nicely on its own and pairs well with many vegetarian dishes.
Besides tasting great, pumpkin seeds are a good source of manganese (important for bone health and to fend off anemia and PMS), phosphorus (key to the development of teeth and bones, alongside kidney, muscle, heart, and nerve function), magnesium (plays a role in bone growth and maintenance, as well as digestion), copper (for maintaining blood vessel, nerve, immune system, and bone health), zinc (primarily for immune system function), protein (for overall growth and development), and iron (to support blood and muscle function).
It’s no surprise that these native American “pepitas” have a long list of health benefits.
1. For heart health
The magnesium in pumpkin seeds protects a person’s blood pressure and can fend off heart attack, cardiac arrest, and stroke. Sprinkle a quarter of a cup of seeds over a salad, on yogurt, or as part of your granola or trail mix for a delicious, nutty addition with half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
2. As an immunity booster
Packed with immune-boosting zinc, pumpkin seeds promote cell division and growth, alongside sleep and insulin regulation. Unfortunately, zinc deficiency is highly common and is associated with greater incidence of flu and colds, fatigue, depression, and acne. A single-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds provides more than 2 mg of the essential mineral that can help promote the immune system and its many important functions.
3. To support the prostate
Men stand to benefit from pumpkin seeds in ways that women simply can’t, given that they’re proven to help promote prostate health. This goes for the seeds and the oil from the seeds as well. The high levels of zinc are thought to remedy an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Moreover, some of the chemicals in pumpkin seeds are thought to halt testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT)—often leading to prostate enlargement.
4. After menopause
Of course, women can also reap the benefits of pumpkin seeds in their own way. With natural phytoestrogens that have been linked to good “HDL” cholesterol, pumpkin seeds can mitigate common menopausal and postmenopausal symptoms, which include hot flashes, headaches, joint pain, and a drop in blood pressure.
5. To protect against diabetes
Animal studies have indicated that pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seeds extracts, and pumpkin seed oil can assist in insulin regulation. What’s more, they’ve also been associated with less oxidative stress. But these findings should be taken with a grain of salt because they were not directly observed in humans and we still cannot draw absolute correlations between animal and human conditions.
Must Read: What To Do If You Have Diabetes
6. To fight cancer
Another body of research that seems promising but should be looked upon with a critical eye is that of how pumpkin seeds can fight cancer. Pumpkin seeds have a unique makeup of antioxidants and have therefore been linked with a lowered incidence of cancer. Additionally, the beneficial lignans found in the seeds are thought to reduce the chances of developing both breast cancer and prostate cancer.
7. To relieve an overactive bladder
Surprisingly, pumpkin seeds have been shown to help support bladder function. Both human and animal studies have indicated such, as consumption lessened the frequency of urination during both daytime and nighttime hours in test subjects. While frequent urination isn’t necessarily a health problem per se, quality of life can decrease with an overactive bladder.
8. As a source of powerful potassium
This element is essential for some basic human functions like muscle contraction, fluid regulation, and blood pressure maintenance, and a half-cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains nearly 300 mg of potassium. Kidney stones, bone loss, arthritis, cancer, and infertility can all result from low levels of potassium, so it’s important to get the recommended 4,500 mg daily.