Pumpkin seed, also known as pepita are the edible seeds of a pumpkin or certain other cultivars of squash. The seeds are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval, and light green in color and may have a white outer hull. Some cultivars are hulless, and are grown only for their seed. The seeds are nutrient-rich, with especially high content of protein, dietary fiber and numerous micronutrients.
1. Heart Healthy Magnesium
One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which participates in a wide range of vitally important physiological functions, including the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecules of your body), the synthesis of RNA and DNA, the pumping of your heart, proper bone and tooth formation, relaxation of your blood vessels, and proper bowel function. Magnesium has been shown to benefit your blood pressure and help prevent sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack, and stroke. 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium
2. Zinc for Immune Support
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth and division, sleep, mood, your senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function. Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems and poor school performance in children, among others. Pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.
3. Plant-Based Omega-3 Fats
Pumpkin seeds, is one of the best sources of plant-based omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). We all need ALA, however, ALA has to be converted by your body into the far more essential omega-3 fats EPA and DHA by an enzyme in which the vast majority of us have impaired by high insulin levels. So, while pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of ALA, I believe it is essential to get some of your omega-3 fats from animal sources, such as krill oil, as well.
4. Prostate Health
Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men's health. This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health. They promote overall prostate health and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
5. Anti-Diabetic Effects
Studies suggest that pumpkin seeds may help improve insulin regulation and help prevent diabetic complications by decreasing oxidative stress.
6. Benefits for Post-menopausal Women
Pumpkin seed oil is rich in natural phytoestrogens and studies suggest it may lead to a significant increase in good "HDL" cholesterol along with decreases in blood pressure, hot flashes, headaches, joint pains and other menopausal symptoms in post-menopausal women.
7. Heart and Liver Health
Pumpkin seeds, rich in healthy fats, antioxidants and fibers, may provide benefits for heart and liver health, particularly when mixed with flax seeds.
8. Tryptophan for Restful Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid (protein building block) that your body converts into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin, the "sleep hormone." Eating pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed, along with a carbohydrate like a small piece of fruit, may be especially beneficial for providing your body the tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production to help promote a restful night's sleep.
9. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Pumpkin seed oil has been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. One study even found it worked as well as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects. Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
10. Improved Bladder Function
In some studies, pumpkin seed extracts improved bladder function in animals.
11. Depression Treatment
They contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
12. Prevention of Kidney Stones
They prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, according to studies.
13. Treatment of Parasites
They are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. Studies also show them to be effective against acute schistosomiasis, a parasite contracted from snails.
14. Lower Cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
15. Cancer Prevention
The same phytosterols that lower cholesterol also protect against many cancers.