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While nuts are talked about year-round as a nutrient-rich snack, a lot of people only think about pumpkin seeds around Halloween. You’re scooping the guts out of a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern or festive casserole when you decide to throw them on a baking sheet with a little salt and toss ‘em into the oven. Simple and delicious? Absolutely. But there are many reasons why pumpkin seeds deserve a regular spot in your snack rotation and shouldn’t just be reserved for October. As it turns out, pumpkin seeds are packed with benefits.
Pumpkin seeds are straight-up packed with nutritional value and benefit the body in many ways. In fact, eating pumpkin seeds could even help boost your mood and help you sleep better. Think it’s too good to be true? Find out what scientific studies and registered dietitians have to say about the benefits of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds nutrition facts (for a serving of 100 g or .4 cups)
- Protein: 30 g
- Total fats: 48 g
- Carbohydrates: 12 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Calcium: 61 mg
- Iron: 8 g
What Are the Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?
1. They’re a good source of plant-based protein
If you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up or post-workout boost, snacking on pumpkin seeds can help thanks to their protein. “It’s a great plant-based option for people with allergies and sensitivities since nuts and soy are among the common allergenic foods,” says registered dietitian Nour Zibdeh, RD.
Registered dietitian Aja Gyimah, RD, says that she likes to add a serving of pumpkin seeds to salads and rice-based dishes to up the protein in her meal. She says they make a good protein-rich topping in oatmeal, too.
2. Eating pumpkin seeds could help you sleep better
Fun fact about pumpkin seeds: They contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is used to make melatonin. Melatonin is a key hormone for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. For this reason, eating pumpkin seeds could help promote better sleep. According to research, one gram of tryptophan 45 minutes before bedtime decreases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
3. Consuming pumpkin seeds could boost your mood
Something else that’s noteworthy about the tryptophan found in pumpkin seeds is that it’s also used to make serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are linked to depression which is why consuming tryptophan is important for mental well-being—and eating pumpkin seeds can help with that!
4. Pumpkin seeds support cognitive functioning
Gyimah says that consuming pumpkin seeds helps support cognitive functioning—another brain benefit. “Pumpkin seeds contain a derivative of omega-3 that is said to help improve cognitive function and reduce risk of cognitive decline,” she says.
5. They’re good for your heart
Both dietitians say that pumpkin seeds have several nutrients that make it great for cardiovascular health. The omega-3s that Gyimah mentioned are good for the brain and are also scientifically linked to supporting the heart. “Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium and potassium, two minerals that help with blood pressure,” Zibdeh adds.
6. They help keep blood sugar levels steady
Rises and falls in blood sugar levels can take your mood and energy levels on a rollercoaster ride. Zibdeh says that one benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they help keep blood sugar levels steady, which means your mood and energy levels will stay steady too.
7. Pumpkin seeds are good for your gut
“Pumpkin seeds contain fiber which is great for the gut as it helps keep your bowel movements regular and keeps your gut bacteria happy,” Gyimah says. Considering that only seven percent of Americans get enough fiber, this is a very important benefit. Zibdeh adds that pumpkin seeds also tend to be well tolerated by people with irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and stomach pain. “The magnesium in pumpkin seeds also helps with constipation,” she says.
8. Eating pumpkin seeds is good for your immune system
Zibdeh says that the zinc in pumpkin seeds helps support the immune system. So next time you feel a little under the weather, it’s worth it to top your chicken noodle soup off with a handful of pumpkin seeds.
Ways To Incorporate Pumpkin Seeds Into Your Diet More
There’s no shortage of ways to add pumpkin seeds into your diet. Besides just snacking on them as is, they can be integrated into almost anything for a savory bit of crunch. At breakfast, pumpkin seeds can be added into oatmeal, on avocado toast, or even tossed into a blender to be used as the protein in a smoothie.
For lunch, pumpkin seeds can be added to salads and grain bowls or as a soup topping. If you are making your own salad dressing or pesto sauce, add pumpkin seeds to your ingredients in a food processor and blend them together to up the protein in your condiment.
For dinner, pumpkin seeds can be roasted in the oven right along with veggies. They also taste great mixed with couscous or in curry. Pumpkin seeds can also be incorporated into baking when making cookies, muffins, and bars. And of course, it can be used in place of nuts when making trail mix too!
Pumpkin seeds are versatile and chock full of nutritional benefits. If you haven’t given them a thought since last Halloween, consider this your sign to experiment with them in new ways year-round.