Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and minerals. Possible benefits of eating pumpkin seeds include boosting bone health, sexual wellbeing, and the immune system.

People often refer to pumpkin seeds as “pepitas,” which is Spanish for “little seed of squash.”

This feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods.

It looks at the possible health benefits of pumpkin seeds, their nutritional content, how to use them in a person’s diet, and their possible health risks.

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Pumpkin seeds are a suitable source of healthy fats, magnesium, and other nutrients that enhance heart and bone health.

They are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants such as selenium and beta carotene. Additionally, they are a high source of iron. One cup of pumpkin seeds contains 9.52 milligrams (mg) of iron, a significant portion of the 18 mg recommended daily allowance (RDA) for premenopausal females and 8 mg for males and postmenopausal females.

Pumpkin seeds also contain:

  • zinc
  • phosphorus
  • manganese
  • protein
  • fiber

Bone health

Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, which is important for bone formation.

High magnesium intake has associations with higher bone density. Additionally, low blood levels of magnesium have links to an increased risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Weight loss and digestion

A 1-ounce (oz) serving of pumpkin seeds contains 1.8 grams (g) of fiber. This is 6% of the recommended daily value.

The benefits of a diet high in fiber include:

  • helping maintain a moderate weight, because the individual feels full for longer after eating
  • improving digestion
  • managing blood sugar

The immune system

Pumpkin seeds have a high content of vitamin E and other antioxidants.

Vitamin E helps strengthen the immune system and maintain healthy blood vessels. Many seeds, including pumpkin seeds, are high sources of vitamin E.

Insomnia prevention

Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, with a 1-oz serving containing 0.16 g.

People have used tryptophan to treat chronic insomnia because the body converts it into serotonin, the “feel-good” or “relaxing” hormone, and melatonin, the “sleep hormone.”

According to research, consuming 1 g or more of tryptophan before bed can improve sleep quality.

Sexual, prostate, and urinary health

People have traditionally used pumpkin seeds as an aphrodisiac.

These seeds are also rich in zinc, which can benefit male fertility. According to a 2018 study, it can improve both sperm quality and quantity.

A 2019 study found that pumpkin seed extract could be useful for people with benign prostatic hyperplasia, a type of prostate enlargement that can cause trouble with urinating.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 1-oz serving of unsalted pumpkin seeds contains:

energy 163 kcal
carbohydrates4.2 g
protein8.5 g
calcium15 mg
iron2.3 mg
magnesium156 mg
zinc2.2 mg
copper0.4 mg
selenium2.7 mcg
phosphorus332 mg
manganese1.3 mg

People can eat pumpkin seeds alone as a snack or add them to dishes for extra taste and a crunchy texture.

Individuals can try using them:

  • on top of salads
  • in homemade granola with a mixture of nuts, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit
  • roasted and brushed with olive oil and seasoning
  • in pumpkin seed butter

Pumpkin seeds feature a high fat content, so they are prone to rancidity. People should keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place to improve shelf life. They can also store them in the fridge or freezer.

However, people should supervise young children who are eating nuts or seeds, as they could cause choking.

The total diet or overall eating pattern is most important in disease prevention and achieving optimal health. It is best to eat a diet with variety than concentrate on individual foods as a way of maintaining health.

Pumpkin seeds are a popular edible seed that people can add to salads, granola, and nut mixes. They contain a range of nutrients that are beneficial to health.

Individuals should store pumpkin seeds in a cool, dark place and supervise children who are eating them.