The health benefits of raw pumpkin seeds are quite amazing. Did you know that just one cup (64 grams) of pumpkin seeds contains 44% daily value (DV) of zinc, 22% of copper, 42% magnesium, 16% manganese, 17% potassium, and enough iron (17% DV) to make a measurable difference in iron-deficiency associated anemia? It’s good to remember that the minerals in real food are much more bioavailable and biocompatible than inorganic forms.
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkins are an indigenous species found across North America, South America, and Central America. Pumpkin seeds are also a favorite in Mexican cuisine. The Spanish word for pumpkin seeds is “pepita,” which is consistent with its origin since the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash.”
Native American tribes treasured pumpkin seeds for dietary and medicinal properties. Pumpkin seeds were used as a dense source of nutrition at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD. They were introduced to the Americas and the rest of the world through trade and exploration over many centuries.
Currently, China is the world leader in producing pumpkins and pumpkin seeds. Other major producers include India, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, and the United States. Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the USA, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York. However, pumpkins are now grown commercially in virtually all U.S. states, and over 100,000 acres of U.S. farmland are planted with pumpkins.
Pumpkin seeds are the only types of seed that are alkaline-forming. Pumpkin seeds are also a complete, plant-based protein containing all the essential and non-essential amino acids, which serve as the building blocks of protein and are vital for muscle regeneration and the development of lean body tissue.
19 Super Health Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- provides benefits for heart & liver health
- may help improve insulin regulation
- prevents calcium oxalate kidney stone formation
- rich in B-complex
- excellent source of plant-based omega-3s
- antimicrobial & anti-viral
- good source of Vitamin K
- good for prostate health
- good source of Vitamin E
- may reduce levels of LDL cholesterol
- has a diuretic effect
- 3.5 ounces provides 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%)
- 1/4 cup contains nearly 1/2 of RDA for magnesium
- excellent source of tryptophan which converts to GABA in the brain
- helps with sleep
- anti-inflammatory properties
- antioxidant properties
- anti-fungal & anti-parasitic properties
- good source of dietary fiber
DID YOU KNOW? Women who supplemented with 2,000 mg of pumpkin seed oil over the course of 12 weeks were found to have reduced blood pressure, increased HDL cholesterol, as well as reduction in the severity of hormone insufficiency associated symptoms (hot flashes, headaches and join pain). Additional experimental research indicates that adverse cardiovascular changes associated with estrogen deficiency, such as blood pressure and lipid abnormalities, can be mitigated with pumpkin seed oil.
Serving Ideas for Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- Add raw pumpkin seeds to organic sautéed vegetables.
- Add organic, freshly ground raw pumpkin seeds to your daily smoothie.
- Sprinkle raw pumpkin seeds on top of mixed green salads.
- Grind raw pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley, and cilantro leaves. Mix with cold-pressed olive oil and fresh lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
- Add raw pumpkin seeds or freshly ground raw pumpkin seeds to your gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe.
- When making organic veggie, turkey, or beef burgers, add some freshly ground raw pumpkin seeds to the mixture.
Healthy Raw Pumpkin Seed Smoothie Recipe
Serving Size: 1
9 oz Almond milk
1 Medium banana (frozen)
¾ cup frozen organic mixed berries
1 Handful organic spinach
2 Tbsp freshly ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp freshly ground raw pumpkin seeds
Stevia or raw honey (if desired)
A handful of ice from purified water
Combine ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!
Cinnamon & Cayenne Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
4 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons raw coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Crystal Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place raw pumpkin seeds (make sure they are dry) in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
Pour the spiced coconut oil over the pumpkin seeds in the large bowl, mixing well to coat all the seeds evenly.
Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake the pumpkin seeds, stirring and tossing occasionally, 20-30 minutes, or until roasted.
Remove pumpkin seeds from the oven and allow them to cool. Serve.
Refrigerate remaining leftovers in an airtight container for no more than five days.
Options: Just about any of your favorite nuts and seeds may be used in this recipe.
Should Pumpkin Seeds Be Soaked?
Soaking the seeds and nuts seems to help them taste so much better, but more importantly, it makes the nutrients more available to your body. If you find yourself eating many nuts or seeds, soaking your raw seeds and nuts will most likely be helpful to you since the higher levels of enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid may be problematic. Soaking and dehydrating your organic raw nuts and seeds before consuming them gives them a taste similar to roasted nuts without the added harmful vegetable oils or high temperature.
While you can purchase quality organic pre-soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds, you can get the same results by soaking your own at home. Of course, it does require some time investment, but most people find it worth the time to get great-tasting seeds and nuts that are bioavailable to your body.
Research and Resources
Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study. Climacteric. 2011 May 5. Epub 2011 May 5. PMID: 21545273
Supplementation with pumpkin seed oil improves plasma lipid profile and cardiovascular outcomes of female non-ovariectomized and ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley rats. Phytother Res. 2008 Jul;22(7):873-7. PMID: 18567058
[Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas]. Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2004 Oct-Dec;24(4):323-7. PMID: 15614300
In Vitro antioxidative activity of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate and its In Vivo effect on alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase in acetaminophen-induced liver injury in low protein fed rats. Phytother Res. 2006 Sep ;20(9):780-3. PMID: 16807884