Originally from South America, pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) now grows worldwide. Several pharma companies use their seeds and oil to make medicines. The seed compounds can help reduce bladder and prostate discomfort by increasing urination. In addition, some chemicals may help to minimize prostate swelling. Additionally, people in various cultures also use these seeds as a culinary addition. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, copper, protein, manganese, and zinc. It also includes free-radical scavenging antioxidants and phytosterols, which are plant chemicals. However, as with many good things, there is another side as well. Unsupervised and excess consumption of pumpkin seeds may have some adverse side effects.
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of the pumpkin fruit. These flat, white seeds are a “nutrition powerhouse.” They are oval, with pale greenish seeds visible after removing the outer white coat. They have a sweet and nutty flavour. In the United States, they are called “pepitas.”
Nutritional Values of Pumpkin Seeds
One hundred grams of pumpkin seeds contain:
Energy: 446kcalFat: 19gProtein: 19gCarbohydrate: 54gDietary fibre: 18gSodium: 18mgPotassium: 919mg Calcium: 52mgIron: 8.07mg
Potential Side Effects of Pumpkin Seeds
Harmful to People on Diuretics
Oedema is prevalent among people who have kidney problems or some cardiovascular issues. According to several case studies, these seeds have minor diuretic properties that could interact with diuretic medicines, resulting in more trips to the bathroom. In addition, it could have an impact on your body’s mineral balance. So, if you’re on diuretics, avoid pumpkin seed consumption.
Although pumpkin seeds are not as allergenic as other seeds, they may lead to some allergic reactions. The most common target of these allergies is the skin. So, if you have a pumpkin seed allergy, here’s what you may expect:
Scaly, irritated, and red skinHives and itchingRhinoconjunctivitis is a type of conjunctivitis that causes nasal congestion and sneezing.Allergic AsthmaBreathing problemsHeadacheSwelling and redness in the mouthThroat irritationApneaCoughingDangerous for people with hypoglycemia
May Lead to Weight Gain
Several studies show that pumpkin seeds have hypoglycemic properties. Therefore, it may help regulate sugar, making them a convenient snack for people with diabetes. In addition, it lowers blood glucose levels, preventing an unexpected rise in glucose levels. However, if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, you should check with your doctor before adding pumpkin seeds to your diet.
One hundred grams of pumpkin seeds contain 446 kCal calories and 19g of fats. Therefore, excess consumption of pumpkin seeds leads to weight gain. So, unless you want to gain weight, ensure that you eat this snack in moderation. Obesity is the root cause of various health problems, including hypertension and diabetes. So, before adding seeds to your diet, talk to a nutritionist, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Pregnant and Lactating Women
There is no scientific evidence to suggest either the use or avoidance of pumpkin seeds during pregnancy or lactation. However, it is best to come down on the side of caution. It would be best to avoid any side effects of pumpkin seeds during pregnancy and lactation.
Low Blood Pressure
Pumpkin seeds are naturally high in antioxidants. So, they can lower blood pressure. However, in case of hypotension and taking anti-hypertensive medications, it is best to avoid them. It would be best to discuss the potential side effects with your doctor.
Loss of Nutrients
Improper consumption of pumpkin seeds may make you lose a variety of nutrients. For example, cooking them for too long or not chewing them enough may deprive you of all the benefits. In addition, crisp-cooked pumpkin seeds do not contain water-soluble elements. For example, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. Therefore, keep the heat as low as possible while cooking them. Also, rather than swallowing them, chew them thoroughly.
Pumpkin Seeds May Cause Stomach Ache
Eating large quantities of pumpkin seeds may lead to stomach related issues, mainly stomach aches. It is because pumpkin seeds contain a high concentration of fatty acids, which can cause stomach distress, cramps, and pain if consumed in excess. To avoid this adverse effect, eat only a handful at a time or combine it with other foods.
Pose a Severe Health Risk
Pumpkin seeds have a short shelf life, and eating rotten pumpkin seeds puts our bodies at risk for various illnesses. These illnesses may include heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, to name a few. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, before eating pumpkin seeds, double-check that they are neither grassy nor greasy.
Without proper medical advice, a person who is already on medication may experience an undesirable reaction if the drug interacts with the other medicines that they are taking. Similarly, it’s usually a good idea to see a doctor before including pumpkin seeds in your diet. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds contain anti-nutrients such as cyanide, tannin, and oxalates.
Pumpkin seeds are high in vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which can worsen blood thinning in people who are already taking blood thinners. Therefore, it may result in bleeding. So, before including pumpkin seeds and blood thinners in your diet or health plan, you should consult your doctor.
Not Safe for Infants
Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and iron, making them an appealing snack for children. However, these are not suggested for newborns since they are high in fibre and fatty acids, which can cause stomach cramps, discomfort, vomiting, and even diarrhoea.
Other Side Effects
Pumpkin seeds are high in fibre. Therefore, eating them in excess might cause gas and bloat, and it can even cause constipation.
Pumpkin seeds are a healthy food that you can include in your daily routine or diet to reap the most benefits. The question now is, how much pumpkin seeds should you consume daily? The average individual should consume about 30 grams per day. Anything above that can lead to adverse effects.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Magnesium is abundantly present in pumpkin seeds. As per studies, magnesium is beneficial for bone health and its functions. Its consumption increases mineral density inside bones. It reduces the chances of bone fractures and osteoporosis. The lesser the mineral density, the weaker the bone gets. The risk of weakened bones increases with age. Therefore, older people’s consumption of pumpkin seeds is suitable for their bone health.
Magnesium deficiency increases inflammation in the body. It further affects bones by harming the cartilage. The cartilage wears down, which increases friction between joints. It causes soreness and pain near joints.
One hundred grams of pumpkin seeds has around 262 mg of magnesium. This much magnesium is sufficient to meet 65%of your daily magnesium needs.
Pumpkin Seeds Provides Antioxidants
Carotenoids and vitamin E are antioxidants found in pumpkin seeds. As per studies, antioxidants can help to decrease inflammation and safeguard the cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive molecules present in the body. Free radicals cause the oxidation of cells that damage the different essential elements present in a cell. These include cell membrane, DNA and various proteins present in cells. As a result, eating foods high in antioxidants can serve to protect you from a range of diseases.
Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E and zinc. They are therefore beneficial to our immune system. Vitamin E boosts the body’s immunity and prevents a variety of infections. Additionally, it’s also a potent antioxidant. It, therefore, protects the body from numerous chronic diseases like cancer and cardiac problems. In addition, it keeps the cells of the body healthy. Thus, this helps the body effectively fight harmful bacteria and viruses.
As per research conducted, zinc helps in protecting our bodies from inflammation, allergies, and dangerous pathogens. Inflammatory cells and cytokines are the initial responders sent out by the immune system. These cells stimulate the body to restrict germs and other harmful substances or start healing for wounded tissue. It further helps fight infections and boost the body’s overall immune system.
Good for Heart Health
Pumpkin seeds are high in unsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). As per research, ALA is beneficial for heart health. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. It helps in proper human development. By assisting in maintaining the correct heart rhythm and pumping, it prevents cardiovascular disease. It also helps to prevent blood clots.
As per a study, Pumpkin seed oil helps postmenopausal women lower their cholesterol levels in 2011 study. It also helps manage blood pressure because they are rich in magnesium.
Pumpkin Seeds Helps Lose Weight
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and fibre. They give the feeling of being full for long and consequently make us eat less and consume fewer calories. As a result, it further aids in the weight loss process. Additionally, a high fibre rich diet adds bulk to the bowel produced by the body. Therefore, it results in a better bowel movement.
Furthermore, it improves the excretory system and helps the body eliminate unwanted materials and toxins. Moreover, The seeds are rich in critical fatty acids, which aids in the maintenance of healthy blood vessels while reducing harmful cholesterol present in the blood.
Pumpkin Seeds: Ways to Consume
Sprinkle on the Salad
Pumpkin seeds are crisp and tasty, and you can add them to any salad. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on a simple green salad or a chicken salad. It adds just the right amount of crunch and increases the dish’s nutritional value. Play around with pumpkin seeds in salads and keep varying the vegetables and proteins to get a healthy filler that will keep you satiated for long.
Eat as a Snack
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack. It is an excellent choice when you’re hungry in between meals. Pumpkin seeds are appetite suppressants and significantly lessen hunger pangs. You may find it intriguing that one can consume pumpkin seeds as a snack, even on a diet. It’s a low-calorie, fat-free snack for those who want to lose weight.
Raw pumpkin seeds provide several health advantages and can treat various disorders and nutritional deficiencies if you consume an adequate amount and in a proper way.
Mix with Baked Products
Including pumpkin seeds in your baking recipe is one of the best ways to consume them. Moreover, it’s a delectable way to prepare these seeds. You can use pumpkin seeds in various healthy baking recipes to add flavour and crunch, elevating the taste of your food.
You can use pumpkin seeds in the following baking recipes:
Muffins CakesBars made with nuts and seedsFruit bread like- banana breadTrail mix
You may make a trail mix with either raw or roasted pumpkin seeds. Carry the trail mix with you everywhere in a zip lock pouch. It satisfies your hunger in the healthiest way possible. Simply combine pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, roasted almonds, and dried cranberries in a bowl.
Seeds and Oat Cookies
Pumpkin seeds and oat cookies are an excellent alternative if you’re tired of eating oats traditionally. You may use oats, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and honey to make it! Yes, only four ingredients are required to make a nutritious breakfast to start your day. Of course, you can substitute different seeds and nuts, but this is a traditional and delicious method to eat pumpkin seeds.
Add on with Meals
You can make pumpkin seeds mix add on to some of your meals. For example, make a salsa dip with pumpkin seeds and serve it with roasted chicken or even a one-pot meal. To make the hummus more crunchy, sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds.
Even after considering all of the disadvantages of pumpkin seeds, you cannot dispute the abundance of benefits it provides. It is high in antioxidants and improves heart health, liver health, immunological system and prostate. It’s also suitable for postmenopausal ladies and promotes restful sleep. However, before adding pumpkin seeds to your diet, make sure you use the proper amount.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What happens if you eat too many pumpkin seeds?
A. Pumpkin seeds are high in fibre. So, eating a lot of them might produce gas and bloat. In addition, it may cause constipation. Furthermore, eating them in excess may lead to adverse side effects like weight gain and low blood pressure. Therefore, you must consume them in moderation.
A. No, if you eat pumpkin seeds in moderation, they can help prevent the build-up of uric acid in the body. Uric acid build-up can lead to kidney stones. However, pumpkin seeds contain other toxins that cause disorders like gout.
Q. Who should not eat pumpkin seeds?
A. People allergic to pumpkin seeds should avoid consuming them. In addition, pregnant and lactating women, infants, people with hypoglycemia and hypotension should avoid eating pumpkin seeds. In addition, if you are on a low-calorie diet, you should limit its consumption as they are high in calories.
Q. Do pumpkin seeds cause kidney stones?
A. There is no direct correlation between pumpkin seeds and kidney stones. But on the other hand, pumpkin seeds help prevent the build-up of uric acid in the body. A build-up may lead to kidney stones. So, a moderate intake of pumpkin seeds may help prevent kidney stones.
A. No. Pumpkin seeds decrease blood glucose levels. However, you should avoid taking them with diabetes medications because it can lead to a hypoglycemic state which is more dangerous.
A. Pumpkin seeds are fibre-rich seeds that can induce stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, soreness, bloating, and other symptoms, but not bleeding. So, it is safe to say that pumpkin seeds do not cause stool in the blood.
Q. Is there uric acid in pumpkin seeds?
A. No, the uric acid concentration is low in most nuts and seeds. Similarly, pumpkin seeds also have low uric acid.
Q. Do pumpkin seeds cause inflammation?
A. No. Pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidants, which help to protect our cells from disease and prevent inflammation in our bodies. So, pumpkin seeds with a nutritious diet may work as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Q. Does pumpkin increase blood pressure?
A. No. Pumpkin seeds lower blood pressure. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium that lowers blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide synthesis. It is a signalling chemical that helps blood arteries relax to help facilitate better blood and oxygen flow. Therefore, it leads to reduced blood pressure.
Q. Do pumpkin seeds raise blood sugar?
A. No, it decreases blood sugar. Insulin resistance is widespread in patients with magnesium deficiency. Pumpkin seeds include magnesium, which aids with blood sugar control and reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to the body not effectively responding to insulin to use blood sugar to release energy, increasing blood sugar levels.
Q. Can pumpkin seeds cause blockage?
A: There can be gas and bloating on excessive consumption of pumpkin seeds. In general, fibre adds bulk to the stool and avoids constipation. However, consuming too many pumpkin seeds at a time can induce constipation.
Q. Does pumpkin cause gout?
A. No, it prevents gout by detoxification. Gouts occur when there are high levels of uric acid in the body. One of the best diets for lowering uric acid levels is pumpkin seeds. These foods are high in dietary fibres, which aids in absorbing uric acid and its elimination from the body.