The Secrets of Pumpkin Seeds: Tiny but Mighty

Yu-Hsin Liang, MD

Medical reviewed by Yu-Hsin Liang, MD

Graduate Student in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

In research, pumpkin seeds and their extract showed potential in treating chronic diseases, anxiety, hair loss; and, they’re especially beneficial for gentlemen.

Carving Jack-o’-lanterns is a blast during the fall season. But if you’re tossing those pumpkin seeds away, you’re missing out big time!

Not only are they safe to eat, but these little guys are like tiny powerhouses of goodness and have been used in traditional medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. (1)

In research, pumpkin seeds and their extract showed potential in treating chronic diseases, anxiety, hair loss; and, they’re especially beneficial for gentlemen. (2)

1. Nutrition facts

When it comes to nourishing your body, pumpkin seeds are an absolute goldmine of vital nutrients. If you take a handful, or a 28-gram serving, of shell-free seeds, you’ll get 8.6 grams of protein, and 1.7 grams of fiber. This means they’re your ally in keeping hunger at bay and helping you with those weight loss goals. (3 , 4)

Pumpkin seeds are also abundant in essential fatty acids, notably heart-boosting omega-3. (2 , 5)One serving delivers a substantial amount of most vitamin Bs (except for B7 and B12, which are primarily found in meat).

You will also benefit from vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that’s in the mix. (6 , 7)

These seeds offer a rich source of minerals, boasting magnesium, zinc, and iron. Did you know that nearly half of Americans are running low on magnesium? Yet, you can easily hit your daily value for this mineral with two servings of pumpkin seeds. Quite impressive, isn’t it? (8 , 9 , 10 , 11)

2. Chronic diseases

Antioxidants in pumpkin seeds like berberine, vitamin E, and proteins combat harmful invaders like bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, and parasitic worms. (2) They may also contribute to preventing inflammation, the major cause of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart and fatty liver diseases, and even cancer. (2)

Additionally, these seeds aid in blood sugar regulation through their fiber, vitamin B, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. (8 , 2) The magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, antioxidants, and healthy fats content, like omega-3, can help manage your blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Two big wins for a heart-healthy life! (12, 1 , 2 , 5 , 13)

3. Men’s health

In traditional Chinese medicine, pumpkin seeds have been used for treating an enlarged prostate, known in the medical field as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (1) Numerous contemporary studies have also supported traditional remedies, highlighting the advantageous impact of these seeds on prostate health. (2 , 14)

In a study back in 2014, known as the GRANU trial in Germany, they looked at 1,431 men with enlarged prostate. (1) These guys were split into teams, and while they were getting treated, some were given pumpkin seeds, others got pumpkin seed extract, and the third group had placebo for a year. The symptom scores improved by 36% for the pure pumpkin seed group, 33.4% for those on pumpkin seed extract, and 29.2% for the placebo group. (15)

This effect may be attributed to the presence of sitosterols – a compound that inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, a key factor in prostate enlargement. (5 , 16 , 1) Other clinical studies have also found that besides enlarged prostate, pumpkin seed oil can ease the troubles of an overactive bladder. It might not be as potent as prescription medicine, but the oil showed fewer bothersome side effects. (12 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 1)

Plus, the zinc in pumpkin seeds can help keep your testosterone levels in balance. Zinc, magnesium, copper, fibers, and omega-3 fatty acids are also essential to maintain sperm production and quality. (10 , 20 , 14)

4. Hair growth

Did you know pumpkin seeds also work wonders for your hair? In a study, men with male pattern baldness took 400 grams of pumpkin seed oil daily, alongside standard treatment. After six months, their hair count shot up by 40%. Meanwhile, the guys in the placebo group only saw a 10% increase. (21)

Pumpkin seed oil might be a go-to solution for female pattern hair loss as well. (22) You can either take it as supplements or go full-on with the pure oil. Just apply it directly to your scalp or mix three to five drops into your shampoo. 

5. Mental health

These golden green seeds have 2 long been a mood-boosting favorite by the Chinese. (14) Pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium. This might just be the key to kicking anxiety and migraines to the curb and getting a good night’s sleep. It means, falling asleep easily and not snoring. (23 , 24)

These little seeds are also a natural source of tryptophan, a precursor to the “happy” hormone, serotonin. This can help relieve depression and social anxiety disorder. (2 , 1 , 12)

So, pumpkin seeds might be worth trying if you want to tackle trouble sleeping or mood swings.

6. Safety tips

In a nutshell, these tiny seeds can be your body’s trusty partners. Even though they are usually safe for most of us and allergies are very rare, there are a few safety tips you need to be mindful of. (25)

With their unsaturated fat content, pumpkin seeds are prone to rancidity (or oxidation when they start to go bad). This means weird tastes, shorter shelf life, nutrient loss, and, in some cases, toxic compounds are formed. So, try to keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place. (26)

Adults should watch over young children, as those tiny seeds can be a choking hazard for them. It’s best to skip nuts and seeds altogether for those under 4 years old. (27)

Raw pumpkin seeds contain a lot of phytic acid. This acid can mess with our digestive enzymes and make minerals hard to absorb. But here’s the good news: if you opt for shelled and roasted pumpkin seeds, you can significantly slash that phytic acid content. (1)

7. How to eat

Some may suggest that eating shells can amp up the seeds’ fiber content by 2 to 3 times. (8) However, if your stomach isn’t used to that much fiber of about 5 grams per ounce, you might get some digestive problems like bloating. (12 , 28)

Plus, seeds without shells often come with less added sodium, which is better for your heart. (12) And if you’re wondering how to part those seeds from their shells, after plucking those seeds from your pumpkin, just give them a good soak in warm water and salt for 24 hours. (8 , 1)

Shell aside, are roasted or raw pumpkin seeds better for you?

Like we said earlier, when you roast these seeds at high heat, those phytic acids can be removed. Plus, roasting is the real deal for getting the most out of this snack. It not only enhances taste, smell, and texture but also boosts the antioxidant content. (12) Roasting may also make these seeds better at helping with prostate function and reducing stress. (29)

Now, you can easily find pumpkin seeds from your local store’s snack aisle. But store-bought ones might sneak in some extra salt and skimp on other minerals. So, if you want the healthiest option, consider scooping them straight out of your Halloween carved pumpkin! (8) Here’s a quick guide:

– Clean and dry your seeds.

– Then, lightly season them.

– Roast them at 250°F (or 120°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. (12)

As for seasonings, go wild! It can be any herbs or spices, like turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, chili powder, oregano, thyme, or even cocoa powder. Get creative and find your flavor bliss!

When fall rolls in, besides going for pumpkin spice, sprinkle those seeds over your salad for an extra dose of crunch and goodness. Or whip up some homemade granola, yogurt, or cereal with these pumpkin seeds. And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, how about blending them for a dip sensation? Think hummus, pesto, or guacamole – it’s snack time with a twist!

You’ve got those pumpkin seeds ready to roll, but when’s the ideal time to enjoy them? You’re good to go with the roasted ones anytime, no matter the hour or season. (8)

And here’s the bonus: you can keep pumpkin seeds for up to six months, so you can always have a nutritious snack in your back pocket. (30 , 31) Coming to portion control, an ounce of pumpkin seeds, which is roughly a handful, is a great starting point. There’s no official maximum limit, so feel free to slowly amp up your intake and keep an eye on how your body responds. Just remind yourself to share or watch your portion size, as these tiny seeds are easy to overeat, and the calories may add up quickly! (12 , 32)

Read more: What to Eat to Lose Weight?


Pumpkin seeds are packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them beneficial for weight loss, heart health, prostate health, hair growth, and mental well-being. To maximize their benefits, it’s recommended to consume roasted seeds, practice portion control, and store them properly to maintain freshness and nutritional value.

How Do You Feel About This Article?

Yu-Hsin Liang, MD

Medical reviewed by Yu-Hsin Liang, MD

Graduate Student in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

  • sticker
  • sticker
  • sticker
  • sticker
  • sticker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ebook Download

Best 50 foods, recipes & 14-day meal plans for diabetes management

    *Note: It might take a few minutes.

    Kindly check your spam if you don't find it in your inbox.