Top 6 health benefits of pumpkin seeds
These small, often discarded seeds, are nutritional powerhouses. We asked Registered Nutritionist Nicola Shubrook to explain why pumpkin seeds are so good for you.
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What are pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are edible, flat, oval-shaped seeds found at the centre of the pumpkin fruit. When removed from the flesh, they can be rinsed and roasted, either plain or with other flavours such as herbs and spices to create a delicious, crunchy snack.
Nutritional benefits of pumpkin seeds
A 30g serving contains approximately:
• 170 kcal / 704KJ
• 7.3g Protein
• 13.7g Fat
• 2.1g Fibre
• 81mg Magnesium
• 246mg Potassium
• 1.98mg Zinc
• 3.0mg Iron
Top 5 health benefits of pumpkin seeds
1. May support blood sugar balance
A study investigating the benefits of pumpkin seeds combined with linseed found they may be helpful in preventing diabetic complications, such as high cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The hypoglycaemic properties of these seeds may help those with diabetes to better manage blood sugar levels.
Read Diabetes UK's top 10 dietary tips to manage diabetes.
2. Heart healthy
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of unsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). There has been good evidence that eating pumpkin seeds as part of a balanced diet, because of their ALA content, may well be beneficial for the heart and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
A 2011 study also found that pumpkin seed oil helped improve cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, being a useful source of magnesium, pumpkin seeds may help regulate blood pressure, but more research is needed on the role magnesium plays in this area.
Learn more about what to eat for a healthy heart.
3. Are antioxidant-rich
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which may help scavenge the ‘free radicals’ responsible for cell damage. One interesting study found pumpkin seeds were associated with a significantly reduced breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women compared to no consumption, and a second study showed they may help protect pre-menopausal women, too.
4. May reduce cancer risk
While there are no single ‘superfoods’ that can prevent cancer, and certain risk factors for cancer are unrelated to diet, there is evidence that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of cancer. Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers including that of the breast, prostate and colon.
5. May benefit bladder health
Studies have found that the oil from pumpkin seeds, may have the potential to prevent or treat urinary disorders, however further research is still required to confirm these findings.
Are pumpkin seeds safe for everyone?
Pumpkin seeds are generally recognised as safe for most people, with allergy being rare. However, if you are concerned about seed allergies, always check with your GP before introducing them to your diet.
Learn more about food intolerances and allergies.
Pumpkin seed recipes
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Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.