Pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) are a valuable source of vitamins and minerals that promote good health. You can eat pumpkin seeds raw or roasted as a delicious snack, sprinkle them on salads, or add them to health-boosting smoothies. Pepitas have many health benefits including keeping your heart healthy, helping you get a better sleep, and managing diabetes.
Pumpkin seeds are good for you because they are a complete protein source containing all the 9 essential amino acids. They also have a good amount of fiber, and large amounts of many minerals that you need for a healthy body.
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are also a rich source of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) also has many scientifically-proven health benefits. The rich antioxidant properties in pepita oil help to lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and improve bladder health. There is even evidence showing that pumpkin seed oil is good for hair loss.
What’s the Difference Between Pepitas and Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds and pepitas are basically the same thing. Pepitas are seeds from the pumpkin without the shells. In Spanish, the word pepita literally means “little seeds of squash.”
Some varieties of pumpkins also have pepitas (shell-less seeds) growing naturally in them.
You can, of course, eat pumpkin seeds raw with their shells still on. You can also buy pumpkin seeds that are unshelled. However, most pumpkin seeds or pepitas sold in supermarkets are shelled seeds.
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) – Nutrition Facts
Pepitas are a rich source of important minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids.
Consuming pumpkin seeds every day is a good, healthy source of energy. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 1-oz. (28 g) serving of pumpkin seeds (about 85 seeds) contains 126 calories. 15 grams of carbs and 5.5 grams of fat.
Compared to other nuts, pumpkin seeds are high in carbohydrates. Pumpkin seeds have more than double the number of carbs of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds. If you are on a keto diet, you can still eat pumpkin seeds, but watch your portion size.
28 g of pumpkin seeds has a glycemic index (GI) rating of 10.
The biggest health benefit of eating roasted pumpkin seed is that the seeds contain high levels of micronutrients. For example, 1-oz. (28 g) of pumpkin seeds contains 2.9 mg of zinc which is 19% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). This size of serving also contains 74 mg of magnesium (19% RDI), 260 mg of potassium (7% RDI), and 0.2 mg of copper (10% RDI).
If you have an iron deficiency, then consuming raw pumpkin seeds may be good for you. Data on the nutrition content of row pumpkin kernels show that 2 tablespoons (28 g) of raw pumpkin seeds contain 2.7 mg of iron which is about 14% of your RDI.
A 1-oz. serving of pumpkin seeds also provides you with trace amounts of vitamins A, C, and some B-group vitamins.
Consuming pumpkin seeds regularly is also a good way to get protein because they are a complete protein source. 1-oz. of pumpkin seeds (2 tablespoons) provides 5.6 g protein (10% RDI).
Scientists have found that just under 60% of the weight of pumpkins seeds is protein. Due to the levels of amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals, researchers concluded that pumpkin seeds are a good source of nutrients for men and women.
When using pumpkin seed oil (PSO), it seems that oil made from roasted pepitas is better for you than oil made from raw ones. Researchers found that roasting pumpkin seeds makes the oil more oxidative stable than oil from unroasted seeds.
Antioxidants in pepitas
Pepitas are rich in antioxidants that help to boost your body’s defense system against infection, disease, and the effects of oxidative stress.
The Journal of Food Science and Technology reported that roasted pumpkin seeds are a good source of antimicrobials and antioxidants. Scientists described pumpkin seeds as “good sources of bioactive compounds with health benefits.”
Other scientific research has found that pumpkin seeds are a good source of phytosterols, tocopherol, and squalene. These compounds help kill free radicals that can lead to chronic disease like cancer and reduce the signs of aging.
What Are Pumpkin Seeds (Pepita) Good For? 9 Health Benefits of Pepitas
What are the health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds? Let’s look in more detail as to why consuming pepitas can give your health a boost.
Pepitas Are Anti-Inflammatory
Pumpkin seeds are good for your health because they help to reduce inflammation in your body.
Short-term inflammation in your body is essential to help fight disease and infections. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Pumpkin seeds contain fatty acids like omega 3 (ALA- alpha-Linolenic acid). One study found that a mixture of ground pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds helped to lower inflammatory markers in adults with liver disease. The patients took 30 g of the milled pumpkin seed mixture daily for 12 weeks.
Pumpkin seeds can make a delicious crunchy topping for salads or side dishes. You can also add the milled seeds to my ultimate anti-inflammatory smoothie.
Pepitas Have Compounds That Promote Good Heart Health
One of the benefits of eating raw or roasted pumpkin seeds is that they contain antioxidants that are good for your heart.
There are a number of reasons why pumpkin seeds can help protect you from heart disease.
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Research has found that ALA is beneficial to protect against various cardiovascular diseases. Scientists recommend consuming 2 g of ALA a day to help protect your heart.
There are also high levels of magnesium and potassium in pumpkin seeds that can help to regulate blood pressure. The National Institutes of Health report that some studies indicate that increase in magnesium and other micronutrients cause a slight drop in blood pressure.
1-oz. serving of roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds contains 74 mg magnesium which is 19% of your RDI. This amount of pumpkin seeds also has 260 mg potassium (7% RDI) and 15.5 mg calcium (2% RDI).
Some studies have linked the intake of seeds such as pumpkin seeds to lower blood pressure.
Find out what herbs and foods are great for protecting your cardio health and how you can significantly lower your risk of a cardiac arrest.
Pepitas Are Good to Eat Because They Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms
If you have type 2 diabetes then eating shelled pumpkin seeds or raw pumpkin seeds can help to lower blood glucose levels.
One study found that a pumpkin seeds extract can help to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic rats. Researchers concluded that pumpkin seed extract have anti-diabetic potential, and more studies on humans should be done.
Research has found that pumpkin seeds contain nutrients that are useful in helping to control and maintain blood glucose levels.
Combining flax seeds with pumpkin seeds could also help to prevent complications associated with diabetes. Scientists found that consuming a pumpkin/flax seed mixture can help to prevent diabetic kidney disease.
Pepitas Can Help You Sleep Better
If you have trouble getting to sleep, eating raw or roasted pumpkin seeds in the evening is a good idea. Pumpkin seeds contain the substance tryptophan which is linked with good sleep.
Doctors from WebMD say that tryptophan is an essential amino acid that may help you fall asleep better.
The journal Sports Medicine published a review on supplements that can help with sleep patterns. Tryptophan supplementation can help to improve sleep quality and help a person fall asleep quicker. Tryptophan is also a precursor to melatonin which can help with insomnia.
One clinical study found that tryptophan from plant and protein sources is just as effective as pharmaceutical grade tryptophan to help treat insomnia.
Learn about other foods and herbs for better sleep.
Pepita Consumption Is Good for Your Eye Health
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent food to prevent age-related eye problems because pepitas contain compounds that are good for your vision.
Doctors from WebMD say that minerals such as zinc are necessary to enjoy good vision and protect eye health. Also, lutein and zeaxanthin are necessary to help protect your eyes and can prevent age-related macular degeneration.
The recommended daily intake of zinc for good eye health is 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women.
Consuming a 1-oz. serving of pumpkin seeds a day can help you get 19% of your recommended daily zinc needs.
Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Find out about an additional 10 foods and herbs that can help protect your eyesight and improve your vision.
Pepitas Help Treat Prostate Problems in Men
Compounds in pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed supplements can help prevent enlarged prostate conditions in men.
A review of 16 studies on the effect of pumpkin seed supplementation on men found that pumpkin seeds can help reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate.
Other studies show that pumpkin seeds are among the most popular ingredients in natural supplements for prostate problems.
Pumpkin seed oil is also used in many countries as a preventative functional food for prostate diseases.
Doctors from WebMD report that some studies indicate that men can take 5 grams of pumpkin seeds twice daily to help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia.
If you are a man, find out how to spot the first signs of prostate cancer.
Pepitas May Prevent Urinary Tract Stones From Forming
Consuming a serving of pumpkin seeds every day can also be good for your urinary tract system.
One study from Thailand found that consuming pumpkin seeds every day can help to prevent mineral deposits in the urinary system. Researchers recommended pumpkin seeds as a nutritious daily snack to prevent bladder stone disease.
Find out what else you can do to reduce the presence of crystals in your urine. You can also use apple cider vinegar to treat kidney stones naturally.
Pepitas Have Anti-Parasitic Activity
Eating shelled pumpkin seeds could help rid your body of tapeworms and other intestinal parasites.
One study from 2012 found that pumpkin seeds rid humans of certain parasites. Consuming a serving of pumpkin seeds every day helped to reduce the number of parasites by 75%. Eating pumpkin seeds together with areca nuts was even more effective and reduced parasite load by 89%.
Learn how to use a parasite cleanse diet to get rid of tapeworms and other parasites for good.
Pepitas For Weight Loss
Is eating pumpkin seeds good for weight loss? There are no studies directly connecting weight loss with pumpkin seed supplementation.
However, the fact that pumpkin seeds are a tasty and healthy snack can prevent you from snacking on unhealthy chips. Also, pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that can nourish your body and keep you feeling fuller for longer. As always, moderation applies, and it should be combined with healthy lifestyle that promotes weight loss.
Pepitas Have Anticancer Properties
It is good to eat pumpkin seeds every day because they contain high levels of antioxidants that can help to prevent cancer.
One study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that pumpkin seed extracts contain phytoestrogens. They are plant-based hormones that act similar to estrogen in women.
Phytoestrogens may have a protective effect on the spread of breast cancer cells of postmenopausal women. However more research needs to be done to explore the potential for using pumpkin seed to prevent or treat breast cancer.
Other animal studies have shown that pumpkin seed extracts along with ginger extracts can help to offset some of the effects of chemotherapy.
Find out if your diet consists of cancer-causing foods and how to replace them with other foods that help to reduce your risk of cancer.
Apart from pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil, there are many other foods that can protect against breast cancer.
Pumpkin Seed Oil (PSO) Benefits
You can also use pumpkin seed oil as a supplement to help get even more of the goodness from pepitas.
Pumpkin Seed Oil May Boost Hair Growth
One of the most researched benefits of pumpkin seeds is connected with using pumpkin seed oil for hair growth.
One randomized, double-blind trial found that pumpkin seed oil helps to treat hair loss in men. 76 men with androgenetic alopecia (the most common cause of hair loss in men) consumed 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil. After a 24-week period, there was a 40% increase in hair count in the men using the pumpkin oil.
You can either consume the pumpkin oil itself or around 1.5 tablespoons of shelled pumpkin seeds which are equivalent to 400 mg pumpkin seed oil.
Learn other natural methods to help your hair grow quicker and why many people add rosemary essential oil to pumpkin seed oil for hair loss.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is Rich in Antioxidants
Taking pumpkin seed oil capsules can increase the number of antioxidants in your body and help reduce inflammation.
One study on rats found a potential use for pumpkin seed oil to benefit people with arthritis. The study revealed that pumpkin seed oil was as effective as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in relieving pain in inflamed joints.
Learn about other foods to eat and to avoid if you have arthritis.
Pumpkin Seed Oil to Lower Blood pressure
The anti-inflammatory effect of pumpkin seed oil can help to treat hypertension and protect your cardiovascular health.
One study on rats found that pumpkin seed oil had a similar effect to pharmaceutical drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
Find out other natural ways to reduce high blood pressure.
Pumpkin Seed Oil Can Prevent Some Complications of the Menopause in Women
Taking pumpkin seed oil is good for women because it can help to improve some of the symptoms of the menopause.
One study found that consuming pumpkin seed oil in the menopause can help to increase HDL cholesterol (or, “good” cholesterol) and lower blood pressure. Women taking pumpkin seed oil supplements also reported fewer joint aches, hot flashes, and headaches.
Discover other essential nutrition supplements for menopause.
Pumpkin Seed Oil Help Improve Bladder Health
Pepita seed oil can treat conditions associated with urinary dysfunction.
One trial on 45 humans found that taking 10 g of pumpkin seed oil helped to relieve symptoms of an overactive bladder.
Other studies have shown that pumpkin seed extract can help to reduce urinary problems in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Find other ways to treat urinary tract infection naturally.
How Much Pumpkin Seeds should You Eat a Day?
There is no official RDI for pepitas, however you may want to consume 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds per day because they can be really good for you. Just 1-oz. of pepitas (28 g or around 2 tablespoons) contain 19% of the recommended daily intake of zinc and 19% of the daily recommended intake for magnesium. Most of the nutrition facts mentioned at the beginning of the article are based on a consumption of 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds.
What’s the Best Way to Consume Pumpkin Seeds?
You should prefer raw pumpkin seeds as this is the best way to preserve their healthy nutrients. While both raw and roasted pumpkin seeds offer health benefits, raw pumpkin seeds offer more nutritional value. For example: because fiber, protein and minerals are not destroyed by heat, these nutrients are found in roughly equal amounts in both raw and roasted pumpkin seeds, but heat can destroy other nutrients such as some vitamins.
When purchasing pumpkin seeds you have to make sure they smell fresh. Organic pumpkin seeds are preferred, as they will not be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
When bread is baked, the heat of the oven can destroy some nutrients in the pumpkin seeds.
However, most nuts and seeds, including pepitas, have anti-nutrients like phytic acid that can make all the previously discussed important nutrients less bioavailable when you consume them. These nutritional inhibitors can be minimized or eliminated by soaking the seeds.
If you plan to consume seeds or nuts on a regular basis, it would be wise to soak them in water for 7-24 hours to remove the phytic acid. To make them more palatable, you can then dehydrate them in your oven on a low heat setting (no more than 170 degrees F or 75 degrees Celsius) for about 15-20 minutes, or better yet and more cost effectively in a dehydrator. There are many dehydrators on the market and they are readily available on Amazon.
Side Effects of Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
Raw pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, or unshelled pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack that nearly everyone can enjoy.
According to doctors on WebMD, it is very rare for a person to experience side effects when consuming pumpkin seeds in “medicinal amounts.” (36)
You should be careful of eating salted roasted pumpkin seeds as they may increase sodium levels in your body.
Some people do report allergic reactions from eating pumpkin seeds. These side effects of pepitas can include asthma and itching or swelling of the mouth.