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Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/10/2016

It’s time to start thinking about pumpkin seeds beyond the autumn months. These small seeds have big benefits that should be taken advantage of all year round. 


Pumpkin seeds contain many important trace minerals for heart and bone health and may even help protect against certain cancers. With only one net carb, they’re easy to include in your keto diet plan too! 


Let’s take a look at some of the surprising health benefits of pumpkin seeds.

pumpkin seeds and pumpkins

What are pumpkin seeds?


Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of the pumpkin fruit. They’re keto-friendly and packed full of valuable nutrients, making them the perfect nutritious addition to switch up your meals. 


There are so many different ways to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet. Pumpkin seed butter, roasted pumpkin seeds, and salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds are some popular options. 


Pumpkin seeds are sold with their shells on or off. Shell-free seeds will appear green rather than the typical white pumpkin seeds you might be used to.


You can add pumpkin seeds to a salad or even eat them with nut butter atop a slice of keto bread. For other keto-approved foods, check out this Keto food list.

Are pumpkin seeds low-carb?


Pumpkin seeds are low-carb and rich in healthy fats, making them an excellent choice for a ketogenic diet. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains only one net carb! 


Pumpkin seed nutrition facts

Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts per one ¼ cup serving of pumpkin seeds. 


A serving of ¼ cup pumpkin seeds contains:


  • 160 calories

  • 14 g total fat 

    • 2.5 g saturated fat 

    • 6 g polyunsaturated fat

    • 4.5 g monounsaturated fat

  • 8 g protein

  • 3 g total carbs

    • 2 g dietary fiber

    • 1 g net carb 


One ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds has zero milligrams of cholesterol and sodium. Not only that, but they also contain essential minerals.


Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of:


  • Iron

  • Magnesium

  • Zinc 

  • Potassium 

shelled and unshelled pumpkin seeds

7 incredible benefits of pumpkin seeds


1. Support healthy blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you may want to consider adding more pumpkin seeds to your diet. 


Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which plays an important role in reducing blood pressure, decreasing stress, improving sleep quality, and reducing muscle cramps. 


2. Support ketosis 

Pumpkin seeds are rich in heart-healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids act as an anti-inflammatory and provide energy in the form of ketones. 


Pumpkin seeds also contain monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fat promotes healthy blood cholesterol levels, decreases the risk of heart disease, and helps fuel the body while in ketosis. 


Pumpkin seeds provide a good source of protein and are low in carbohydrates, making them suitable for a ketogenic diet. Evidence suggests that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates can lower blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain. 


3. Rich source of zinc

Zinc is a trace mineral that plays an important role in supporting the immune system. Diets rich in zinc help support healthy cells by decreasing your viral load. 


Zinc also supports the health and integrity of your skin. One ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains 15% of the zinc you need each day.  


4. Contain the complete vitamin E complex

Pumpkin seeds are one of the few foods that contain the entire vitamin E complex. Vitamin E supports the heart, skin, and adrenal glands. It also acts as a potent antioxidant.


Antioxidants like vitamin E reduce cancer risk by fighting oxidation and free-radical damage in the body. 


5. Contain important plant compounds

Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols—powerful plant compounds that help to promote healthy cells and are especially important for prostate health. 


Phytosterols help to prevent enlargement of the prostate gland, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. In this study, Korean men were treated for enlarged prostates with either pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto oil, or both. 


The results showed that both oils were safe and effective and may be beneficial as an alternative or complementary treatment to relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. 


Pumpkin seeds also contain phytoestrogens which can be beneficial for postmenopausal women.


6. Promote sleep

One serving of pumpkin seeds contains almost half of your recommended daily value of magnesium. Adequate magnesium intake can improve sleep quality, energy levels, and neuromuscular function.


Unfortunately, over half the population has a magnesium deficiency. If you aren’t consuming enough vegetables, it’s likely that you’re deficient in magnesium. 


Too much calcium can also deplete magnesium reserves. Because most magnesium is stored in the bone, a blood test isn’t the best marker of magnesium levels.   


Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Tryptophan helps with sleep, sugar cravings, and helps to reduce stress.


7. Rich in essential trace minerals

Trace minerals are needed in small amounts for many important functions in the body. Along with magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of the trace minerals manganese, phosphorus, and copper. 


Manganese plays a critical role in building enzymes for proteins. If a pregnant woman is deficient in manganese, her baby could end up with a weak musculoskeletal system. A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost half of the manganese that you need each day. 


Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of the trace mineral phosphorus. Phosphorus is the accelerator of the nervous system. Without enough phosphorus, you’ll find yourself tired and with low energy. Low phosphorus can also lead to kidney stones, liver stones, and calcium deposits.


You can get 20 percent of the copper you need each day in a single serving of pumpkin seeds. Copper is part of the vitamin C complex and plays an important role in the production of collagen.


Collagen is important for the strength and elasticity of your blood vessels. Copper is crucial for improving blood flow throughout the body.

handful of pumpkin seeds

Key takeaways


Pumpkin seeds prove to be more than just a tasty snack. The nutritional profile and health benefits of pumpkin seeds make them one of the best seeds to enjoy on a keto diet. 


Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet is an easy way to prevent mineral deficiencies, boost your immune system, and even prevent free-radical damage. Try adding more pumpkin seeds to your diet today!



FAQ


1. Are pumpkin seeds keto-friendly?

Yes. Pumpkin seeds are high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and contain a moderate amount of protein. 


This makes them an ideal food to incorporate into a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin spikes, which lowers your blood sugar. 


2. Are pumpkin seeds healthy?

Yes. Pumpkin seeds have numerous health benefits ranging from supporting better sleep to lowering blood pressure. 


Other health benefits include support for your immune system and promoting healthy blood sugar levels. 


3. How many carbs are in pumpkin seeds? 

A ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds contains three grams of carbs—two grams of dietary fiber and only one net carb. The dietary fiber in pumpkin seeds also supports the digestive system. 


4. How many pumpkin seeds can I have on keto? 

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best seeds to consume on a keto diet. Enjoy as many as you like—just pay attention to your net carbs. 


5. Are pumpkin seeds good for weight loss? 

Yes. Pumpkin seeds provide many vitamins and minerals as well as protein without encouraging weight gain. They are also very low in carbohydrates, which promotes healthy blood sugar levels. 


6. Is it better to eat pumpkin seeds raw or roasted?

Roasted may have more benefits, but raw pumpkin seeds are also fantastic. If you soak your raw pumpkin seeds in water, you can roast them to dry out the excess moisture. 


This is one of the healthiest ways to consume pumpkin seeds. 


7. How many pumpkin seeds can I have each day?

While eating seeds has many health benefits, you don’t want to overdo it. Pumpkin seeds have one of the best nutritional profiles of any seed or nut. 


As long as you aren’t consuming upwards of three ounces per meal, you’re free to enjoy as many pumpkin seeds as you like.  


8. What is the healthiest way to eat pumpkin seeds? 

Soaking raw pumpkin seeds in water and then roasting them may provide the most health benefits. However, pumpkin seeds can be consumed raw, roasted, shelled, unshelled, and even pressed into an oil. 


Seeds contain a compound called phytic acid which can inhibit your absorption of certain minerals. You can remove some of the phytic acid by soaking raw pumpkin seeds in water.

RELATED: Pumpkin Seeds Nutrient Dense And With Healthy Fats

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