Pumpkin seeds are one food that you probably didn’t realize have a-lot of research behind their extremely powerful health benefits. In addition to being anti-parasitic, bacterial and fungal, pumpkin seeds have also been connected to preventing (and even reversing) type II diabetes (increases insulin sensitivity and lowers fasting blood sugar), heart disease (lowers cholesterol, balances triglycerides and reduces inflammation) as well as having anti-cancerous properties (cucurmosin is a known agent to induce cancer cell death).
Your typical “Jack-O-Lantern” pumpkin seeds are white due to a fibrous outer shell. Crack open and remove that external shell and you reveal the actual pumpkin seed (called a pepita) which has a greenish color.
Fun Fact: There are many types of pumpkin outside of the traditional orange carvers. The other varieties known as Lady Godiva Pumpkin, Austria Oil Seed Pumpkin have a thinner white shell while
Gleisdorfer Naked Seeded Pumpkin and Kakai Hulless Pumpkin, as the name implies, have simply the green pepita seed inside.
The Amazing Power of Pumpkin Seeds
In addition to being loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, pumpkin seeds carry a unique pharmacological power to reduce inflammation and oxidation throughout the body. Most of the research indicates this comes from a high level of ‘Cucurmosin’ a specific ribosome inactivating protein that is toxic to cancer cells, if the dosage is high enough, by deactivating their ribosomes (a small cellular particle made of RNA and associated with other necessary proteins found in large numbers in cancer, and all living cells). Cucurmosin also acts as a strong anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic.
1. Awesome Antioxidants
Oxidation is a normal part of cellar waste. In fact, the only way to be free of oxidation is to no longer have breath or life. Oxidation, and its accumulation over time, therefore needs to be controlled. High levels of oxidation byproducts have been associated with nearly every form of disease and signs of age, from wrinkles to osteoporosis and diabetes to cancer. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with specific antioxidants that are unique to any other found in the plant kingdom. One study preformed in Cairo University in Egypt found the oil of pumpkin seeds was able to stop free radical damage in rats with arthritis, such that their arthritis no longer inhibited their function. Another study found these oils also protect against liver disease and cirrhosis.
- A Happy Heart
Both pumpkin seeds and their oils have been connected to increased heart health – several animal studies suggest that they lower cholesterol and blood pressure, each of which is considered to be a risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. One study of note comes from the Department of Medical Sciences in Jamaica where they demonstrate that pumpkin seed oil dilates blood vessels, decreases diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure and uniquely raises HDL levels while lowering LDL/VLDL levels – correcting what is known as the cholesterol ratio score (which is calculated by dividing total cholesterol by HDL). Lower ratios are considered healthier, so any HDL elevation with a drop in LDL will instantly improve cholesterol ratio – thus lowering the risk for heart disease.
- Destroying Diabetes
One of the most famous health benefits of pumpkin seeds is their ability to regulate blood sugars by lowering and preventing spikes. Why is this important, nearly 90% of Americans have blood sugar imbalances and blood sugar elevations is the major cause of thirst, fatigue, nausea and frequent urination. An article found in the 2011 Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications reported that pumpkin seeds, when combined with flax seeds, resulted in a reduced risk of developing diabetic complications (heart disease, nerve, eye and kidney damage, Alzheimer’s etc.). This happens mostly due to a unique fiber which slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.
- A Good Night’s Sleep
If you are having difficulty sleeping consider adding pumpkin seed butter to your daily diet. Tryptophan and magnesium are in high quantities when the seeds are turned into butter. Tryptophan is known to enhance the quality and duration of sleep while magnesium is a vital mineral that increases length and efficiency of sleep while decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep at night.
- Powerful Prostate Protection
Pumpkin seed oil is by far one of the most powerful “prostate oils” in addition to saw palmetto oil. A 2012 study found that when supplementing with pumpkin seed oil not only protected the prostate but also prevented DNA damage and increased sperm count. Another study demonstrated increase quality of life in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which can reduce urinary output and increase frequency – each of which were improved when taking pumpkin seed oils.
- A Better Bladder
In addition to assisting men with BPH, pumpkin seeds have been shown to improve overall bladder function. One condition affecting millions of Americans is “overactive bladder” which results in increased urinary frequency and decreased urinary output disorders.
- Conquering Cancer
Cancer is a big deal today – a new estimate puts your chances of contracting any type of cancer at a 1:3 chance within a lifetime! Research performed at the University of Rostock, Germany, found that pumpkin seeds have phytoestrogen which carries strong anti-cancer properties -specifically towards breast, prostate, and bladder cancer. Other scholarly journals highlight lowered rates of breast, stomach, lung, and colon cancer when consuming pumpkin seeds and their oils.
How to Increase Consumption of Pumpkin Seeds
It’s simple, just start eating them. Raw pepitas are not only tasty but an excellent addition to salads or trail mixes. You can even make pumpkin seed butter and eat it in place of peanut or almond butter daily.