- The health benefits of pumpkin seeds include improving heart health, regulating blood sugar, boosting sperm quality, and helping you get better sleep.
- Pumpkin seeds are one of the most nutritious snacks you can have, as they are packed with antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals.
- To achieve the health benefits of pumpkin seeds, you can add some to your salad, toast them with spices, or use pumpkin oil dressing.
- This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Pumpkin seeds may be one of the healthiest snacks out there — just a handful can give you a generous dose of your daily fiber intake, along with many vitamins and minerals.
Because they are so nutritious, adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can benefit your health in a variety of ways. Here are five scientifically-proven benefits of pumpkin seeds.
1. Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious
Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to your diet because they’re rich in nutrients like fiber and healthy fats that help keep your body running at its best.
In their raw form, pumpkin seeds are encased in a hard white shell, but cracking these open reveals the smaller, green seeds you’re more likely to find in stores. One ounce of shelled pumpkin seeds has 163 calories and contains:
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in vitamins and minerals. One ounce contains:
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Pumpkin seeds also have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help fight off free radicals, which are particles that can damage your cells and lead to serious conditions like heart disease and cancer.
“Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidant nutrients to protect the seed from spoiling, and these antioxidants can potentially reduce chronic disease in humans,” says Judith Wylie-Rosett, EdD, RDN, a professor of epidemiology and endocrinology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
2. Pumpkin seeds may improve heart health
Eating pumpkin seeds may improve heart health because they can help reduce your cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart problems if they are too high. This is because pumpkin seeds are rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats.
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“The unsaturated fat in pumpkin seeds helps with lowering LDL cholesterol,” Wylie-Rosett says. Elevated levels of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, can cause high cholesterol.
Pumpkin seeds may also help lower blood pressure, which can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. This is because the oil from pumpkin seeds helps your body produce more nitric oxide, a chemical that helps your blood vessels to expand and allow blood to flow more easily through your body.
A small 2019 study found that postmenopausal women who took daily pumpkin seed oil supplements had significantly lower blood pressure after six weeks of treatment. To boost heart health, Wylie-Rosett recommends eating a handful of pumpkin seeds about three times per week.
3. Pumpkin seeds can help regulate blood sugar
Many of the nutrients in pumpkin seeds can work to keep blood sugar stable. This is because pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, a nutrient that helps slow how quickly your body absorbs sugar.
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For this reason, the fiber in pumpkin seeds can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, which may be especially beneficial for people with diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar under control is important because over time, high blood sugar can lead to damage of your nerves, organs, and blood vessels.
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in magnesium, which has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
4. Pumpkin seeds may boost sperm quality
More research is needed to see how pumpkin seeds affect human sperm, but in several animal studies, the seeds are shown to improve sperm quality by reducing the number of damaged or abnormal sperm cells. Pumpkin seeds were especially helpful to restore sperm quality in animals that had received chemotherapy, or had injured their testicles.
Pumpkin seeds may help sperm quality partly because of their high zinc content. Zinc helps balance your levels of testosterone, which is important for creating high-quality sperm. Studies show that people with low zinc levels may have less testosterone and more abnormalities in their sperm.
5. Pumpkin seeds may improve sleep
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To get more restful sleep, it may help to eat a handful of pumpkin seeds at night.
Pumpkin seeds are high in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. This is because tryptophan helps your body create serotonin and melatonin, two neurochemicals that help regulate your sleep cycle.
The bottom line
Pumpkin seeds are full of important nutrients like fiber, minerals, and antioxidants that help power many different processes in your body. Adding pumpkin seeds to your diet can help keep organs like your heart and blood vessels running smoothly and boost your overall health.
One easy way to get more pumpkin seeds is to sprinkle them on top of a salad, or use pumpkin oil as dressing. You can also toast pumpkin seeds with your favorite spices, or just have a raw handful as a snack.
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