Elevate Your Plate: The Amazing Health Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Have you ever wondered about the health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds? These tiny seeds may be small in size, but they pack a serious nutritional punch. In this article, we'll explore the amazing health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds. We'll cover their nutrient-rich content and research that showcases their positive impact on fertility, heart health and weight loss. Plus, we'll share some delicious recipes that satisfy your taste buds and nourish your body from the inside out. So grab a handful of these nutritious green gems and get ready to experience the many wonders of raw pumpkin seeds!

What Are Raw Pumpkin Seeds?

Raw pumpkin seeds, often referred to as pepitas, are the edible seeds of a pumpkin, harvested directly from the fruit. The term 'raw' signifies that they are completely unprocessed and uncooked, maintaining all of their nutritional value and natural flavour. They are typically flat and oval, boasting a green colour once the white outer shell or husk is removed. These seeds have a slightly sweet, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch, making them a popular addition to various dishes. Their versatile nature allows for incorporation into sweet treats as well as savoury meals. They also serve as a rich source of numerous vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.

The Differences Between Raw Pumpkin Seeds and Pepitas

Although the terms "pumpkin seeds" and "pepitas" are often used interchangeably, the two have some key differences. Pumpkin seeds refer to the whole seed of a pumpkin fruit, while pepitas specifically refer to the hulled kernel or seed without its outer shell.

Pepitas are, therefore, smaller, greener, and have a softer texture compared to the larger, cream-coloured pumpkin seeds. Additionally, pepitas are often used in Mexican and European cuisine. Due to their high nutritional value, they have become increasingly popular as a healthy snack option in the health and wellness space.

Two jars of pumpkin seeds spilled out onto a table.

Nutrient Content of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds boast an impressive nutrient profile. Some of their best qualities include:

The Health Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are part of the Cucurbitaceae vegetable family. Raw pumpkin seeds have some specific health benefits. Here's a snapshot of what these little seeds can offer:

  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps fight off parasites and mould
  • Protects against bladder infections, prostate disease and hair loss
  • Cardioprotective and anti-diabetic benefits

Let's take a more in-depth look at some of these health benefits.

Weight Management Health Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds play a significant role in weight management, making them a valuable addition to a balanced diet. Fatty acids, polyphenols, lignans, fibre, and plant sterols are some nutritional compounds found in raw pumpkin seeds. These compounds help improve satiety and control obesity. These health benefits, coupled with their low kilojoule count, make raw pumpkin seeds an excellent choice for those seeking to manage their weight effectively.

Prostate Health Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Research demonstrates raw pumpkin seeds have a myriad of health benefits. One of the most notable advantages is their potential contribution to prostate health. Studies suggest that the phytosterols found in pumpkin seeds may be particularly beneficial for men suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Furthermore, the high zinc content in raw pumpkin seeds is critical for prostate health, as a deficiency in this mineral is often linked to higher chances of prostate disorders.

Cardiovascular Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Another significant health benefit of raw pumpkin seeds is their ability to improve heart health. They are rich in essential nutrients that effectively maintain a robust cardiovascular system. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and protect the heart and blood vessels from oxidative damage. The seeds' high magnesium levels support healthy blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks or strokes. Pumpkin seeds also contain high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Hormone Balancing Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of four different seeds (besides flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds) that help balance female hormones. In a dietary practice known as Seed Cycling, including pumpkin seeds in the diet during the first half of your ovarian cycle may support the production of reproductive hormones, such as oestrogen, LH and FSH. These hormones are crucial for successful ovulation and to increase women's fertility.

 Pumpkin seeds in a jar surrounded by pumkins.

How to Incorporate Pumpkin Seeds Into Your Diet

  • Sprinkle on Salads - Add a crunchy element to your salads by sprinkling some raw pumpkin seeds on top.
  • Stir into Yoghurt or Porridge - Incorporate them into your breakfast routine by mixing them into your yoghurt or porridge with fresh fruit and nuts.
  • Bake into Bread - Add a nutritional boost to your homemade bread by including raw pumpkin seeds in the dough.
  • Blend into Smoothies - For an added dose of protein and fibre, blend some seeds into your favourite smoothie.
  • Make Homemade Granola - Combine pumpkin seeds with oats, honey, and your choice of dried fruits to create your own granola.
  • Top Your Soup - Give your soup an interesting textural twist by topping it with some raw pumpkin seeds.
  • Create a Seed Butter - Blend and make a creamy pumpkin seed butter and use it as a spread on toast or crackers.
  • Include in Trail Mix - Make your own healthy trail mix - combine pumpkin seeds with nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate for a nutritious snack.
  • Bake into Muffins - Add some crunch to your muffins or other baked goods by adding raw pumpkin seeds.
  • Garnish Dishes - Use raw pumpkin seeds as a garnish on dishes like pasta, risotto, or roasted vegetables for extra flavour and crunch.

Upgrade Your Meals and Snacks with Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Adding raw pumpkin seeds into your diet is a simple yet powerful step towards enhanced health and wellness. Their nutritional richness boasts a heap of benefits, from boosting heart health and fertility to supporting men's health. It's effortless to incorporate these tiny seeds into your daily meals, whether in your breakfast, a midday snack, or as an addition to your lunch or dinner. Embrace the health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds and enjoy the delicious crunch they add to your dishes.

From Savory to Sweet: Delicious Recipes Using Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds are incredibly versatile and can be used in various dishes, from savoury to sweet. Here are some creative recipes to elevate your plate.

Recipes

Pumpkin Seed and Almond Butter

This nutrient-dense and creamy butter is tasty and packed with the health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds and almonds. You can use it as a spread on your toast or add it to your smoothies for a protein boost.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and evenly spread the pumpkin seeds and almonds on a baking sheet.
  2. Roast the seeds and almonds for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to stir them halfway through to roast evenly.
  3. Let them cool down for a few minutes before proceeding.
  4. Put the roasted pumpkin seeds and almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender. Process them until they become a fine, grainy flour-like consistency.
  5. Continue to process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture will first become a thick, grainy paste, but keep processing.
  6. Eventually, the natural oils in the seeds and nuts will be released, turning the mixture into a creamy, buttery consistency.
  7. At this stage, if you want a hint of sweetness, add 1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Blend again until well combined.
  8. Once ready, store your homemade pumpkin seed and almond butter in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin and Coconut Soup with Raw Pumpkin Seeds

This warm and hearty soup perfectly combines sweet roasted pumpkin and creamy coconut milk. The raw pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch and yield even more health benefits.

Ingredients

  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C and place the pumpkin chunks on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelised.
  2. In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until they are soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the turmeric and cumin to the pot, letting the spices toast for a minute.
  4. Add the roasted pumpkin, coconut milk, and vegetable broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Use an immersion blender or a high-speed blender to puree the soup until smooth. If needed, add more vegetable broth to reach your desired consistency.
  6. Season your soup with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the soup hot, garnished with raw pumpkin seeds. Enjoy the health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds and the comforting warmth of this delicious soup.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

One of the best ways to make the most of pumpkin seeds is to roast them! Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds are perfect as a snack on their own, or they can be added to salads, soups, or even as a crunchy topping on casseroles.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 175°C.
  2. Rinse the pumpkin seeds in a colander until the water runs clear. Spread them out on a kitchen towel and pat dry.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, olive oil, spices and salt. Toss until the seeds are evenly coated.
  4. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the seeds are golden brown, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting.
  6. Let the seeds cool completely before eating. Store in an airtight container.

Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Granola

This recipe offers a delightful crunch and sweetness to your regular breakfast routine. It's delicious and brings the health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds to your table.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the honey or maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, ensuring the oat and pumpkin seed mixture is thoroughly coated.
  5. Spread the granola mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown, stirring halfway through to ensure even baking.
  7. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet—it will continue to crisp up as it cools. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Article References

Akomolafe, S. F., Olasehinde, T. A., & Aluko, B. T. (2021). Diets supplemented with raw and roasted pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L) seeds improved some biochemical parameters associated with erectile function in rats. Journal of food biochemistry, 45(2), e13629. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfbc.13629

Batool, M., Ranjha, M. M. A. N., Roobab, U., Manzoor, M. F., Farooq, U., Nadeem, H. R., Nadeem, M., Kanwal, R., AbdElgawad, H., Al Jaouni, S. K., Selim, S., & Ibrahim, S. A. (2022). Nutritional Value, Phytochemical Potential, and Therapeutic Benefits of Pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.). Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(11), 1394. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants11111394

Hernández-Pérez, T., Valverde, M. E., & Paredes-López, O. (2022). Seeds from ancient food crops with the potential for antiobesity promotion. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 62(17), 4563–4570. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2021.1877107

Prommaban, A., Kuanchoom, R., Seepuan, N., & Chaiyana, W. (2021). Evaluation of Fatty Acid Compositions, Antioxidant, and Pharmacological Activities of Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) Seed Oil from Aqueous Enzymatic Extraction. Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 10(8), 1582. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants10081582

Rolnik, A., & Olas, B. (2020). Vegetables from the Cucurbitaceae family and their products: Positive effect on human health. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 78, 110788. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.110788

Šamec, D., Loizzo, M. R., Gortzi, O., Çankaya, İ. T., Tundis, R., Suntar, İ., Shirooie, S., Zengin, G., Devkota, H. P., Reboredo-Rodríguez, P., Hassan, S. T. S., Manayi, A., Kashani, H. R. K., & Nabavi, S. M. (2022). The potential of pumpkin seed oil as a functional food-A comprehensive review of chemical composition, health benefits, and safety. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 21(5), 4422–4446. https://doi.org/10.1111/1541-4337.13013

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Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, December 22). Pumpkin seed. Retrieved from Wikipedia website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin_seed, viewed 22 December 2023

Wong, A., Viola, D., Bergen, D., Caulfield, E., Mehrabani, J., & Figueroa, A. (2019). The effects of pumpkin seed oil supplementation on arterial hemodynamics, stiffness and cardiac autonomic function in postmenopausal women. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 37, 23–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.08.003