Carving up a pumpkin for Halloween? Don’t throw away the insides — in the world of so-called “superfoods” with robust health benefits, the humble pumpkin seed is a giant.
They’re easy to prepare by roasting or boiling, they’re as versatile as they are tasty and, among their many benefits, pumpkin seeds are full of minerals, including high amounts of manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.
Pumpkin seeds’ magnesium — a mineral that many people don’t get enough of — helps regulate blood sugar levels, lowers the risk of diabetes and helps people with the disease manage their blood sugar levels.
For men, the zinc in pumpkin seeds may help to improve sperm quality and testosterone levels, according to Healthline.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds may help relieve symptoms for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, in which the prostate gland enlarges, causing problems with urination.
In a 2021 study, pumpkin seed oil consumption was able to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in 73 people with BPH.
Pumpkin seeds and pepitas (the seeds without the shells) are a rich source of antioxidants, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, vitamin E and carotenoids.
All of these antioxidants are known to protect cells from disease-causing damage and reduce inflammation in the body.
If you have insomnia or another sleep disorder, pumpkin seeds are a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help promote sleep.
The magnesium the seeds contain has also been associated with better sleep, according to some studies, while other research has found that taking a magnesium supplement could improve sleep quality and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep in older adults with insomnia.
And, if that’s not enough, pumpkin seeds are full of fiber, which helps with digestion and can reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The seeds are a great addition to soups, salads, cereals and sauces, or can just be eaten plain for a crunchy snack. If you’ve never roasted them, here’s a quick and easy recipe from Allrecipes.com:
- Simmer the clean seeds in salty water for 10 minutes.
- Drain the boiled and cleaned seeds in a colander, and use a towel to dry the seeds.
- Toss the clean, dry seeds in butter (or a healthy oil, such as olive or walnut oil).
- Arrange the sheets on a baking sheet.
- Bake in a 300-degree oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.
And remember that you can use the seeds of any squash — butternut, acorn, honeynut, etc. — so experiment until you find your favorite and enjoy!