Pepitas (AKA Pumkin Seeds) - Fellas, this one's for you

Pepitas or pumpkin seeds? Same, same but different.

The word Pepita is derived from the Spanish phrase pepita de calabaza which roughly translates to pumpkin nuggetPepitas are the green seeds found in some pumpkin varieties. In Butternut Squash or Jap varieties, you’ll see a larger white seed. Once hulled you’ll find the familiar green ‘pepita’ within.

Pepitas have been used in traditional medicine throughout history. Notably in Chinese medicine as an antiparasitic agent and testosterone supporting food. These days pepitas or pumpkin seeds are a popular healthy snack. Pepitas are also used in women’s hormone health protocols such as Seed Cycling.

However, when I think of pepitas, without question the first thing I think of is ZINC. And in nutrition terms, zinc is always associated with testosterone and men’s health!  Pepitas are now well supported by scientific research in a range of men’s health issues.  Let’s see why pepitas are worth the nutritional hype below. 

Pepita Nutrients

  • Very High source of zinc: essential for testosterone
  • Contains manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, chromium, potassium, selenium
  • Around 35% protein content
  • Around 45% fat content
  • High in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids
  • Polyphenols

Pepita Health Benefits: Summary

  • Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties
  • Antiparasitic and antifungal properties
  • Supports urinary tract and prostate health
  • Protects against hair loss
  • Maintains blood glucose levels
  • Cardiovascular benefits

A small bowl of pepitas

Pepitas For Men’s Health

Pepitas Could Prevent Hair Loss

A group of 76 male patients with mild alopecia were administered 400mg of pepita seed oil a day, or a placebo for 24 weeks. At the study end, the pepita seed oil group had more hair compared to their baseline.

Pepitas are high in zinc, which account for their ability to promote healthy testosterone production.

Zinc found in pepitas inhibits 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which converts testosterone to DHT.

This causes an overall drop in available testosterone in the body. According to the research, blocking this enzyme both reduces hair loss and promotes hair growth.


Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

A 12 week intervention with pepita extract measured the reduction in BPH symptoms. Night-time urination frequency, improvements in overall quality of life were all assessed. This study from 2017 included 60 men at an average age of 62 years. The results suggest that pepita extract is a very well tolerable and effective option in the treatment of BPH symptoms.

An older study from 2012 involved 100 patients with BPH. Half the group received Prostafit and the other received Prazosin. Prostafit is derived from pepita seed oil and Prazosin is a blood pressure medication commonly used in BPH. Prostate specific antigen levels, bladder volume, urination frequency and quality of life were all examined. After 6 months of treatment, all the above mentioned parameters of BPH showed significant improvement. The authors suggested Prostafit to be effective and safe in the treatment of BPH.

A very compelling study compared pepita seed extract, whole pepitas and a placebo in the treatment of BPH and lower urinary tract issues. This study included a lofty 1431 randomized patients. It furthers the existing evidence that pepitas are efficacious in reducing both patient-reported and objectively measured BPH symptoms.

Pepitas Protect Against Prostate Cancer

In several lab studies, different pepita extracts inhibited prostate cancer cell growth. Pepita extract induced powerful antioxidant production, with an increase in glutathione levels. The combined effects of these results mean pepitas have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

A small shovel of Pepitas

Pepitas For Women’s Health

Bladder & Urinary Health

In a 12-week observational study, 117 women with overactive bladder received pepita seed oil treatment.  A broad range of symptoms associated with bladder health showed improvement. Urination frequency and urgency decreased. Participants' quality of life improved and social anxiety reduced as well.

Another RCT examined 81 women with urinary incontinence. The women in this study received a formulation called Femaxeen. This product contained pollen, pumpkin seed extract and vitamin E. After 1 month, the women on Femaxeen experienced significant improvements from mild to severe urinary incontinence.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Wong et al. (2019) demonstrated that pepita seed oil improved arterial blood flow and maintanted healthy aortic blood pressure levels in a study group of postmenopausal women. This 6 week study had women consuming 3g of pumpkin seed oil per day. This shows promising cardiovascular benefits for older women.  

Pepita Allergy

While pepita allergy is rare, there are a few recent documented case reports of its existence.  In all cases, there is cross-reactivity to peaches, apples and pears. Those with pre-existing allergies to Cucurbitaceae plants, such as watermelon and cucumber may also be susceptible to pepita allergy.

Blood-Glucose Maintenance 

Pepitas and their various bioactive parts have hypoglycaemic properties. Pepita oil, dietary fibre, amino acids and polyphenols all assist in maintaining glycaemic control. This was demonstrated in a recent randomized study where participants had 65g of pepitas over 3 nonconsecutive days. Here, glucose scores postprandially (after eating) were significantly lower in the pepita group. Other molecular parts of pepitas may also assist in blood glucose balancing, including trigonelline, D-chiro-inositol and nicotinic acid.


Pepita Chocolate Bark


  • 2 blocks of good-quality dark cooking chocolate
  • ⅓ cup of dried goji berries
  • ¼ cup of pepitas
  • 2 tbsps. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. sea salt


  1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Melt chocolate either over a bain-marie or in the microwave ( 20 second bursts, stirring after each one).
  3. Spread melted chocolate onto baking paper into an even layer.
  4. Sprinkle in goji berries, pepitas, chia seeds and salt.
  5. Place in the fridge for around 2 hours.
  6. Once set, break into shards or ‘bark’, enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Article References


Adams, G. G., Imran, S., Wang, S., Mohammad, A., Kok, M. S., Gray, D. A., Channell, G. A., & Harding, S. E. (2014). The hypoglycemic effect of pumpkin seeds, Trigonelline (TRG), Nicotinic acid (NA), and D-Chiro-inositol (DCI) in controlling glycemic levels in diabetes mellitus. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 54(10), 1322–1329.

Cândido, F. G., de Oliveira, F., Lima, M., Pinto, C. A., da Silva, L. L., Martino, H., Dos Santos, M. H., & Alfenas, R. (2018). Addition of pooled pumpkin seed to mixed meals reduced postprandial glycemia: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrition research (New York, N.Y.), 56, 90–97.

Chatain, C., Pin, I., Pralong, P., Jacquier, J. P., & Leccia, M. T. (2017). Medicinal bioactivites and allergenic properties of pumpkin seeds: review upon a pediatric food anaphylaxis case report. European annals of allergy and clinical immunology, 49(6), 244–251.

Dhariwala, M. Y., & Ravikumar, P. (2019). An overview of herbal alternatives in androgenetic alopecia. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 18(4), 966–975.

Elhardallou, S. B., Elawad, A. M., Khairi, N. A., Gobouri, A. A., & Dhahawi, H. O. (2014). A review on omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids: uses, benefits and their availability in pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) seed and desert dates (Balanites aegyptiaca) seed kernel oils. Pakistan journal of biological sciences : PJBS, 17(12), 1195–1208.

Ezekwe, N., King, M., & Hollinger, J. C. (2020). The Use of Natural Ingredients in the Treatment of Alopecias with an Emphasis on Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia: A Systematic Review. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 13(8), 23–27.

Gauruder-Burmester, A., Heim, S., Patz, B., & Seibt, S. (2019). Cucurbita pepo-Rhus aromatica-Humulus lupulus Combination Reduces Overactive Bladder Symptoms in Women - A Noninterventional Study. Planta medica, 85(13), 1044–1053.

Gawryjołek, J., Ludwig, H., Żbikowska-Götz, M., Bartuzi, Z., & Krogulska, A. (2021). Anaphylaxis after consumption of pumpkin seeds in a 2-y-old child tolerant to its pulp: A case study. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 89, 111272. Advance online publication.

Leibbrand, M., Siefer, S., Schön, C., Perrinjaquet-Moccetti, T., Kompek, A., Csernich, A., Bucar, F., & Kreuter, M. H. (2019). Effects of an Oil-Free Hydroethanolic Pumpkin Seed Extract on Symptom Frequency and Severity in Men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Pilot Study in Humans. Journal of medicinal food, 22(6), 551–559.

Nomikos, T., Gioti, K., Tsoukala, M., & Tenta, R. (2021). Pumpkin Seed Extracts Inhibit Proliferation and Induce Autophagy in PC-3 Androgen Insensitive Prostate Cancer Cells. Journal of medicinal food, 10.1089/jmf.2020.0200. Advance online publication.

Palacios, S., Ramirez, M., Lilue, M., & Vega, B. (2020). Evaluation of Femaxeen® for control of urinary incontinence in women: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Maturitas, 133, 1–6.

Patel, A., & Bahna, S. L. (2016). Hypersensitivities to sesame and other common edible seeds. Allergy, 71(10), 1405–1413.

Patel, S., & Rauf, A. (2017). Edible seeds from Cucurbitaceae family as potential functional foods: Immense promises, few concerns. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy = Biomedecine & pharmacotherapie, 91, 330–337.

Ristic-Medic, D., Perunicic-Pekovic, G., Rasic-Milutinovic, Z., Takic, M., Popovic, T., Arsic, A., & Glibetic, M. (2014). Effects of dietary milled seed mixture on fatty acid status and inflammatory markers in patients on hemodialysis. TheScientificWorldJournal, 2014, 563576.

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.

Shirvan, M. K., Mahboob, M. R., Masuminia, M., & Mohammadi, S. (2014). Pumpkin seed oil (prostafit) or prazosin? Which one is better in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 64(6), 683–685.

Vahlensieck, W., Theurer, C., Pfitzer, E., Patz, B., Banik, N., & Engelmann, U. (2015). Effects of pumpkin seed in men with lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia in the one-year, randomized, placebo-controlled GRANU study. Urologia internationalis, 94(3), 286–295.

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.