Let’s put up a scenario: You’re trying to change your eating habits and bless your body with healthier food, but you still struggle with the constant need to snack. Snacking can be a great thing if you ingest the right goods. So being mindful of what you eat and including healthy snacks in your diet could help you a great deal in maintaining health and weight. One such snack that you can always look up to is pumpkin seeds. Yes, you heard that right. Containing a variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein, and zinc, these power seeds are bound to make snacking a healthy affair.
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a superfood snack that will satisfy your cravings for a salty snack. And it’s a great way to make use of the abundance of seeds available in the fall.
Their rich vitamin and mineral content makes them one of the healthiest seeds, offering many health benefits.
Fun Fact! Pumpkin seeds were a celebrated food among many Native American tribes, who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties.
In South America, the popularity of pumpkin seeds has been traced at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD.
Pumpkin Seeds are Full of Valuable Nutrients
Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepita” — a Mexican Spanish term.
Unlike the hard white seeds from a carving pumpkin, most pumpkin seeds bought at the supermarket don’t have a shell.
These shell-free seeds are green, flat and oval.
One ounce (28 grams) of shell-free pumpkin seeds has roughly 151 calories, mainly from fat and protein.
In addition, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains (1):
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Carbs: 5 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s)
- Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Iron: 23% of the RDI
- Zinc: 14% of the RDI
- Copper: 19% of the RDI
They also contain a lot of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate.
Summary: Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 151 calories.
1. Pumpkin Seeds are a Powerful Antioxidant
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which is known to be a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E prevents tissue cells from the free radical-mediated oxidant injury.
Selenium, another mineral found in pumpkin seeds, is also an anti-oxidant and helps strengthen our immune system.
Thus, the consumption of a handful of pumpkin seeds daily would help to strengthen your immune system and help your body develop resistance against many infectious diseases.
Summary: Pumpkin seeds are full of antioxidants that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.
Read about all the foods with a powerful andioxidant properties
2. Aids in Mental Health
Pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, an amino acid that is effective against depression and anxiety.
This amino acid is responsible for the production of serotonin, a hormone that brings sleep and relaxation.
These little seeds are also full of stress-busting magnesium and vitamin B-complex, the precursors to the good mood chemical serotonin. Tryptophans containing foods are considered natural mood booster and hence helpful against depression.
Pumpkin Seeds improve concentration power as well: Focus and concentration come from an adequate and steady supply of energy.
Pumpkin seeds are very beneficial for mental health. Seeds containing ample amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These all contributing to good concentration.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of the mineral zinc. One study carried out on 100 female high school students found that zinc deficiency may negatively affect mood. 
Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. The largest storage sites of this mineral in the body are in the brain regions involved with emotions.
3. Treats Hair Loss
The pumpkin seed oil has actually been proven to treat hair loss.
A study published in the 2014 Volume of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows that pumpkin seed oil successfully treated patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Consuming pumpkin seed oil is a good way to treat alopecia and hair loss.
The vitamin B-complex in pumpkin seeds is the key to the healthy growth of our hair and nails. Biotin, a part of B-complex vitamin, help grow healthy hair, while thiamine is an essential nutrient that works in conjunction with other parts of B-complex.
So, if you want to have a shiny mane and steel nails, make sure you include pumpkin seeds in your diet!
Read more about all the foods that can help with your Hair Problems
4. Prevents Dandruff and Promotes Growth
Pumpkin seeds contain rich doses of zinc, an active ingredient present in many anti-dandruff shampoos. Luckily, you don’t have to endure the harshness of these chemical hair cleansers anymore if you include pumpkin seeds in your daily diet.
Enjoy a handful of raw, sprouted, or roasted pumpkin seeds every day. You could also massage your hair and scalp with pumpkin seed oil, leave it on overnight, and wash it off the following day.
Pumpkin seeds contain high doses of iron and L-lysine – two nutrients that can help control excessive hair shedding. Increasing the supplementation of these nutrients can enhance hair growth and help restore it to its former glory.
Even if you don’t suffer from dandruff or hair fall, including pumpkin seeds in your diet is a good idea to enhance the overall quality of your hair. The nutrients like omega-6 fatty acids, protein, iron, and zinc are all important for your scalp and hair’s improved health.
4. Improves Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds’ generous magnesium content helps to keep the teeth and blood vessels healthy. This has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiac arrests.
A study with 35 subjects of which were postmenopausal women showed that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure and increased the good cholesterol. 
These easy to find and cheap seeds are perfect for individuals struggling with high blood sugar. Like many other healthy foods, studies have shown that they can help with insulin resistance for those with diabetes. Not only it’s great for controlling the already present disease, but the pumpkin seed also does a great job in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Summary: Nutrients in pumpkin seeds may help keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure and increasing good cholesterol.
See which foods are promoting heart health
Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with a reduced risk of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers (5).
Others studies suggest that the lignans in pumpkin seeds may play a key role in preventing and treating breast cancer (2Trusted Source).
Summary: Some evidence suggests that pumpkin seeds may help prevent certain types of cancer.
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6. Prevents Osteoporosis
As mentioned many times before, Pumpkin Seeds are high in zinc, making them a natural protector against osteoporosis. A low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.
In a study of almost 400 men (age from 45-92) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they found a correlation between low dietary intake of zinc, low blood levels of the trace mineral and osteoporosis at the hip and spine.
Other studies have shown that a combination of several minerals (zinc, manganese, and copper) with calcium was able to reduce spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women. All which are present in Pumpkin Seeds. 
The high levels of zinc, calcium, copper, and other minerals are linked to increased bone density. Studies have shown that regular intake of pepitas can reduce bone weakness
Which foods to consume to prevent Osteoporosis?
7. Good for Prostate Health
The healing power of pumpkins and pumpkin seeds was discovered a long time ago.
Pumpkin seeds have made the news in recent years for their preventative power in relation to prostate conditions and prostate health. Studies now show that prostate enlargement may be slowed, stopped and even reversed.
A report published in the Fitoterapia Journal that pumpkin seeds are good for relieving the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, primarily due to their high zinc content.
They help keep the prostate healthy, which is one of the most common places for men to develop cancer. Furthermore, low levels of zinc can cause a drop in testosterone levels in men.
Summary: Pumpkin seeds may reduce symptoms of benign prostate enlargement and an overactive bladder.
8. Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
Several studies have found that supplementing with pumpkin juice or seed powder reduced blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (3).
The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds may be responsible for its positive effect on diabetes.
An observational study in over 127,000 people found that diets rich in magnesium were associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men and a 34% lower risk in women (4).
More research is needed to confirm these beneficial effects of pumpkin seeds on blood sugar levels.
SUMMARY: Pumpkin seeds may help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, more research is needed.
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9. High in Fiber
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of dietary fiber — shelled seeds provide 1.1 grams of fiber in a single 1-oz (28-gram) serving (1).
A diet high in fiber can promote good digestive health.
SUMMARY: Whole pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber. Diets high in fiber are associated with many health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Top 20 fiber-rich foods
10. May improve Sperm Quality
Low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and an increased risk of infertility in men (1).
Since pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, they may improve sperm quality.
Evidence from one study in mice suggests they may also protect human sperm from damage caused by chemotherapy and autoimmune diseases (2).
Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can contribute to healthy testosterone levels and improve overall health.
Together, all these factors may benefit fertility levels and reproductive function, especially in men.
SUMMARY: The high zinc content of pumpkin seeds may help improve sperm quality and fertility in men.
11. May Improve Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, you may want to eat some pumpkin seeds before bed. They’re a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.
Consuming around 1 gram of tryptophan daily is thought to improve sleep (1Trusted Source).
However, you would need to eat around 7 ounces (200 grams) of pumpkin seeds to achieve the needed amount of tryptophan.
The zinc in these seeds can also help convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium. Adequate magnesium levels have also been associated with better sleep (2).
SUMMARY: Pumpkin seeds are a good source of tryptophan, zinc and magnesium — all of which help promote good sleep.
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12. Bone Health
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, which is important for bone formation.
High magnesium intake is associated with a greater bone density and has been shown to decrease the risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause.
Top 20 Foods That Are Good For Your Bones
Nutrients in pumpkins seeds may help protect against type 2 diabetes. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a role in the development of diabetes, and antioxidants may help reduce the risk.
In one experiment, diabetic rats started to recover after following a diet containing a flax and pumpkin seed mixture.
The seeds are a good source of magnesium.
Studies have suggested that for every 100 milligrams (mg) a day increase in magnesium intake, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15 percent.
A 100-gram (g) serving of pumpkin seeds can contain over 90 mg of magnesium.
Low magnesium levels can impair insulin secretion and lower insulin sensitivity.
14. Antimicrobial Benefits
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties. Impact of pumpkin seed proteins and pumpkin seed phytonutrients like lignans on the activity of a messaging molecule called interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is likely to be involved in the antimicrobial benefits associated with this food.
15. Possible Benefits for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Pumpkin seed extracts and oils have long been used in treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a health problem involving non-cancer enlargement of the prostate gland, and it commonly affects middle-aged and older men in the U.S. Studies have linked different nutrients in pumpkin seeds to their beneficial effects on BPH, including their phytosterols, lignans, and zinc. Among these groups, research on phytosterols is the strongest, and it centers on three phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds: beta-sitosterol, sitostanol, and avenasterol.
The phytosterols campesterol, stigmasterol, and campestanol have also been found in pumpkin seeds in some studies. Unfortunately, studies on BPH have typically involved extracts or oils rather than pumpkin seeds themselves. For this reason, it’s just not possible to tell whether everyday intake of pumpkin seeds in food form has a beneficial impact on BPH. Equally impossible to determine is whether intake of pumpkin seeds in food form can lower a man’s risk of BPH. We look forward to future studies that will hopefully provide us with answers to those questions.
16. Prevent Parasitic Activity
Pumpkin seeds are associated with anti-parasitic activity and have been used traditionally to eliminate tapeworms and other dangerous parasites in the body.For children, who are most susceptible to worms, pepitas provide a delicious snack and a very important defensive line against those worms, which can result in , incorrect growth patterns, and even death.
17. Prevent Kidney Stones
Pumpkin seeds help reduce toxins in the body, due to their diuretic and antioxidant properties. They stimulateand increase the liver and kidney functions. Uric acid and various other toxins are therefore removed from the body, which means they cannot accumulate into dangerous kidney stones.
18. Pumpkin Seeds can help with your Pregnancy
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc.
Researchers have determined that every 100 g of pumpkins seeds contains 7.99 mg of zinc.
For male adults aged 19 years and above, the ODS recommend a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc and 8 mg for women.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that over 80 percent of women worldwide have an inadequate zinc intake. Low levels of zinc alter circulating levels of multiple hormones associated with the onset of labor.
Nutritionists recommend additional zinc during pregnancy, as it is likely to improve health outcomes.
Zinc is also essential for normal immune function and prevention of uterine infections. All of these could potentially contribute to preterm delivery.
19. Skin and eye health
Squalene occurs throughout all body tissues, and it appears to play a role in protecting the skin during UV and other types of radiation exposure.
Animal studies have also suggested that squalene may play an important role in retinal health.
20. Pumpkin Seeds Could Be Helpful for Postmenopausal Women
After menopause, levels of estrogen drop. This contributes to hot flashes, headaches, and other menopausal symptoms (National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute). A class of naturally occurring compounds known as phytoestrogens mimic the effects of estrogens in the brain and body. As a result, they may reduce risk of menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and cancers (such as breast cancer) that are hormone-dependent (Sunita & Pattanayak, 2011).
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of phytoestrogens, and studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can support increased levels of HDL “healthy”cholesterol, decreased diastolic blood pressure, and decrease symptoms of menopause (specifically, reduced severity of hot flushes, headaches, and joint pains). Although more research is needed in this area, getting plenty of phytoestrogens from pumpkin seeds may improve your postmenopausal health (Gossell-Williams et al., 2011).
Pumpkin Seeds Smoothies Recipes
1. Banana, Coconut & Pumpkin Seed Smoothie
A rich and creamy dairy-free smoothie that whizzes the lovely velvety texture of coconut milk with sweet bananas, the nutty crunch of pumpkin seeds and a warming dash of cinnamon.
2. Strawberry Pumpkin Seed Smoothie (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
3/4 cup almond milk
1 handful greens (I used baby spinach)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 scoop vegan protein powder of choice
1 tsp cinnamon
Blend all ingredients on high till rich and creamy. You may need to add a bit more milk if you don’t have a high speed blender! Top with fresh strawberries, and serve.
The Bottom Line
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and packed with powerful antioxidants.
Eating them can help solve dietary deficiencies and may protect against various health problems.
In fact, pumpkin seeds have been shown to improve heart health, blood sugar levels, fertility and sleep quality. They may even protect against certain types of cancer.
In addition, their rich nutrient content may provide other health benefits, such as improved energy, mood and immune function.
What’s best, they can easily be added to your diet, allowing you to reap their many positive effects.