For information on fat content and calories and why pumpkin seeds make such a great snack food for losing weight, despite the fat, please see the previous page.
Raw Pumpkin Seed Protein Content
Pumpkin seeds would have to have one of the highest protein content of any commonly eaten seed or nut. At around 9 grams of protein per 28 grams (1 ounce) of seeds they are close to a full third protein.
Vegetarians or vegans looking to increase their healthy protein intake would do well to get pumpkin seeds in bulk and snack on a handful or two each day.
The tryptophan content is quite high in raw pumpkin seeds. Tryptophan is an important amino acid that converts to the neurotransmitter serotonin in our brain. A good intake of tryptophan in our diets is believed to have a beneficial effect on our mood, reduce anxiety and stress and help improve sleeping patterns. A deficiency of tryptophan on the other hand is associated with increased stress levels, trouble sleeping and even depression.
Raw pumpkin seeds also contain an unusual amino acid called cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacin can actually paralyze intestinal parasites like tapeworms, helping to expel them from the body and ground pumpkin seeds mixed with milk and honey is a traditional German cure for intestinal worms.
Low in Carbohydrates
Pumpkin seeds make a great addition to low carb diets and are particularly useful for snacking (most low carb diet plans are decidedly light on good snack options).
One ounce of raw seeds (that’s 28 grams) has only 4 grams of carbs. With their very high protein content, fiber and healthy fats, carbohydrates are really not figuring into pumpkin seeds nutrition significantly.
They also have a very low glycemic index. Combine this with how eating just a small amount of them really fills you up and you’re unlikely to put on weight eating pumpkin seeds. In fact, if you were to swap high carb snacks like potato crisps for a bag of raw seeds, you’d be far more likely to lose weight instead.
Fiber in Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds have a good fiber content, with one ounce containing about 1 gram of dietary fiber. This fiber is predominantly insoluble fiber with a little soluble fiber in there as well.
This figure is for those commercially available without the shell. One way to really increase the fiber content of pumpkin seeds is to eat them straight out of the pumpkins you use for cooking. You can lightly saute them on a low heat with organic virgin coconut oil and tamari for an amazing taste. This will soften up the shells, but try not to cook them for too long or with too much heat to preserve the valuable fatty acids.
Vitamin Levels in Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain a variety of B vitamins and a small amount of vitamin C. They also have good levels of vitamin E and the often hard to get vitamin K.
When raw, the seeds of pumpkin are particularly high in the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E. Gamma-tocopherol is considered to be much more of an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory than the more common alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E.
Vitamin K is an important fat soluble vitamin that many people are believed to be deficient in. Due to its calcium regulating properties, a high vitamin K intake may be of benefit in maintaining proper bone density and reducing your risk of heart disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis and many other illnesses associated with abnormal calcium metabolism. Snacking on raw pumpkin seeds at work or in the evening is a simple way to get a good intake of this valuable nutrient.
Pumpkin Seed Mineral Content
Pumpkin seeds are a very beneficial source of minerals and have high levels of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper and zinc. There are also good amounts of other minerals like potassium, sodium and selenium.
Magnesium is vital for maintaining healthy nerve and muscle function, supporting our immune system, energy metabolism and a wide variety of vital processes within our body. Despite its importance, many people eating a Western diet are lacking in magnesium. Just a quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds has close to half the recommended daily allowance of magnesium (but I’d really recommend getting more than that).
Magnesium is a very important mineral for health and energy but much of our over-processed food is depleted in it. Superfoods like raw pumpkin seeds are an ideal source, but unless you’re eating them daily it may be worth looking at other options.
Many people take oral magnesium supplements, however these are said to be rarely absorbed well. Magnesium oil on the other hand has been shown to be a very effective way to increase your intake. It’s worth doing a search on this site if you suspect you may be low on magnesium.
Zinc is another standout in the mineral stakes for this superfood. Zinc is particularly important for men and the high levels found in pumpkin seeds are believed to be one of the reasons it has such a beneficial effect on the prostate gland. Zinc is also involved in maintaining proper glucose levels, preventing infections, wound healing and skin repair and is necessary for a healthy sex drive.
Other Nutritional Benefits of Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds are high in the antioxidant lutein, especially important for healthy eyes. The gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E, selenium and zinc already mentioned are also potent antioxidants.
There are significant levels of phytosterols in pumpkin seeds (around 260 mg per 100 grams). Phytosterols can help decrease LDL cholesterol absorption and high levels in the diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pumpkin seeds also contain a compound called delta-7-sterine that competes with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT can have a damaging effect when it accumulates in the cells of a man’s prostate gland, causing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate.
Delta-7-sterine in high levels in the diet seems to help reduce prostate cell multiplication caused by DHT. It may also block DHT from damaging hair follicles that leads to hair loss.
Eating pumpkin seeds is a good way to get delta-7-sterine into your diet, but pumpkin seed oil is an even more concentrated source. Many men have reported regular use of the oil beneficial for treating prostate problems and preventing hair loss.
Raw pumpkin seeds have a lot of nutrition in them and make for a tasty and unusually healthy snack. If you’ve never tried them before, the next page is on where to find them online at a low price.