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This article reviews pumpkin seed powder, its nutrition, and its health benefits, plus how you can easily add it into your life to boost your health.
In fact, pumpkin seed oil has been studied for its use as an alternative treatment for diseases and conditions such as alopecia, cancer, and infertility ( 2 ).
However, pumpkin seeds should not be overlooked. They’re loaded with good-for-you nutrients such as protein, tocopherols, phytoestrogens, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals ( 3 , 4 ).
They also have recreational uses such as carving, art projects, and smashing. When using pumpkins for these purposes, people often toss out the pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkins are indigenous to South America, though most are grown in the United States today. They’re a popular ingredient worldwide in appetizers, main courses, side dishes, soups, salads, and desserts ( 1 , 2 ).
No one can deny the power of plant nutrition. Vegetables like pumpkins are drenched in good nutrition, offering lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.
Pumpkin seed powder comes from grinding or blending roasted or raw pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin seed protein are the same products if the only listed ingredient is pumpkin seeds. Some pumpkin seed protein products are blended with other plant foods such as flaxseed or quinoa.
Be careful not to confuse pumpkin-flavored protein powder for pumpkin seed powder, because they’re entirely different products. Pumpkin-flavored protein powder might come from various protein sources, such as whey or casein, with pumpkin flavoring added.
To know if you’re getting pure pumpkin seed powder or a pumpkin protein powder, always look at the ingredients list. Pure pumpkin seed powder should have just one ingredient: pumpkin seeds.
You can find a pumpkin protein powder that’s made up of 100% blended or ground pumpkin seeds as well. The difference is that some pumpkin seed protein powders use pumpkin seeds with blends of other plant protein sources such as quinoa or flaxseed .
Pumpkin seed powder is an excellent plant protein source, especially for those who avoid animal proteins or have allergies to dairy proteins such as whey and casein.
Pumpkin seed powder made from roasted pumpkin seeds may have greater health benefits because heat exposure increases its antioxidants. Raw pumpkin seeds may not have the same flavor, aroma, or ease of digestion as roasted pumpkin seeds ( 6 ).
The colorful, colossal gourds are members of the Cucurbitaceae family and are siblings to zucchini, watermelon, squash, and cucumber ( 5 ).
Pumpkin seedscome from — you guessed it — pumpkins . They’re usually cultivated from the Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima species ( 4 ).
Pumpkin seed powder boasts an impressive nutrition profile with high amounts of protein, fiber, and minerals. It’s also free of fat and cholesterol.
As you can see, pumpkin seed powder is packed with protein and is a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
You can get 18 grams of plant-based protein from 1 ounce (28 grams) of pumpkin seed powder.
Protein is made up of amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids that the human body cannot make on its own. Because of this, it’s crucial to eat high quality protein foods that contain essential amino acids. Pumpkin seeds contain all nine (8).
The seeds are chock-full of lysine, leucine, and arginine — essential amino acids effective for muscle building (9, 10).
Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid, or BCAA, a type of essential amino acid known for playing major roles in gut and immune health (11).
And the plant protein benefits don’t stop there.
A 2015 review found nutritional differences between eating plant-based protein and animal-based protein. Eating plant-based proteins led to a greater intake of good nutrition from polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E (12).
Though animal-based protein provided a few beneficial nutrients, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, eating animal protein was still associated with greater intakes of saturated fatty acids. These nutrients may pose a risk to heart health (12, 13).
Pumpkin seed powder is a great source of high quality plant-based protein to support your health.
Sleep disorders are common, and there’s some evidence that sleep disorders may be linked to iron deficiency.
A 2018 review analyzed 93 articles and found that 35 of them noted a positive association between iron deficiency and sleep issues. Thirty-six studies, including five randomized control trials, found that iron supplementation was beneficial for supporting better sleep (14).
An ounce of pumpkin seed powder offers 35% of your DV for iron. Eating iron-rich foods may help maintain healthy iron levels and ward off deficiency.
Vitamin C is known for helping increase iron absorption in the body when the two nutrients are ingested together. To improve your absorption of iron from pumpkin seed powder, it can be helpful to mix the powder with a vitamin C-rich food such as applesauce or a citrus smoothie (15).
Also, pumpkin seed powder provides 80% of the DV of magnesium in just 1 ounce. Magnesium has been studied for its role in helping ease insomnia, though more thorough research still needs to be done (16).
Pumpkin seed powder boasts disease-fighting and immune-enhancing potential, thanks to its wealth of bioactive compounds and antioxidants.
Phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, and tocopherols (vitamin E) are natural antioxidants and bioactive components found in pumpkin seeds (6, 17, 18).
Antioxidants play prominent roles in helping your body function at its best. Natural processes in your body that occur daily produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), or free radicals (19).
Antioxidants help to defend your body by maintaining healthy ROS levels. An imbalance of antioxidants and ROS leads to oxidative stress, which raises your risk of inflammation, tissue damage, and disease (19).
A 2020 animal study found that oral pumpkin seed oil reduced oxidative stress in 20 rats with liver damage when given for 28 days, compared with the control group (18).
Another study found that pumpkin seed oil limited the growth of prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer cells — and the bioactive compounds found in pumpkin seed oil may be the reason behind this (20).
However, both of these studies involved oils, not powder, so we need more research to understand whether pumpkin powder offers the same benefits to humans.
What’s more, zinc — a crucial nutrient for immune health — also functions as an antioxidant. You can eat pumpkin seed powder as a reliable source of zinc, because it has 45% of your DV of zinc per ounce (21).
One ounce (28 grams) of pumpkin seed powder provides 4 grams of dietary fiber — an important nutrient for heart health.
A 2017 randomized control study looked at the effect of 3 grams of oat fiber on cholesterol in 40 adults, comparing them to 40 adults in the control group (22).
After 28 days, the control group saw a 3.1% decrease in total cholesterol and a 4.1% reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol. The experimental group had an 8.1% decrease in total cholesterol and an 11.4% decrease in LDL cholesterol (22).
Lowering high LDL cholesterol levels reduces the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States today (23).
In addition, pumpkin seed powder offers 10% of your DV of potassium in 1 ounce (28 grams).
Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral known for lowering blood pressure, as seen in many studies. That’s because potassium helps rid your body of excess sodium through urination. If high blood pressure gets out of hand, it can result in heart problems, kidney issues, or stroke (24).
Lastly, pumpkin seed powder may benefit heart health, thanks to linoleic acid — an unsaturated fatty acid it contains.
A 2016 review of randomized control studies supports the idea that cholesterol can be strongly reduced when saturated fats in the diet are replaced with linoleic acid fats from vegetable oils (25, 26).
However, it’s unclear whether lowering cholesterol by replacing saturated fats with linoleic acid fats reduces the risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease, so it’s possible the benefits are overestimated. More research is needed (26).
Pumpkin seed powder may influence hair growth.
A 2014 randomized study evaluated the effects of pumpkin seed oil versus a placebo on hair growth in 76 adult men with alopecia, a disease of hair loss (27).
After 24 weeks of treatment with 400 milligrams of encapsulated pumpkin seed oil or placebo each day, there was a 40% average increase in hairs in the pumpkin seed oil group compared with a 10% increase in the placebo group (27).
In one study, rats whose back hair was removed were randomized into five groups. Groups were treated with either a testosterone solution, a testosterone solution with 5% pumpkin seed oil, a testosterone solution and 10% pumpkin seed oil, testosterone and a hair loss drug, or nothing at all (28).
The testosterone was used to slow natural hair regrowth, and the other treatments, such as pumpkin seed oil, were tested to see which one most strongly countered the testosterone’s effects.
After 3 weeks of topical application of the various solutions on the rats’ shaved backs, the group that received 10% pumpkin seed oil saw 60–79% growth in hair compared with 20–39% growth in the testosterone-only group.
These statistically significant results tell us that pumpkin seed oil may counter the effects of testosterone on slowed hair growth (28).
However, we don’t know for sure whether the results would hold true in humans. Plus, these studies both tested pumpkin seed oil, not powder, so more research is needed.
Pumpkin seed oil may benefit reproductive health in people assigned male at birth.
A recent animal study tested the effects of pumpkin seed oil, vitamin E oil, and sunflower oil on the reproductive health of male roosters. Thirty roosters were assigned to 6 groups for 60 days of testing (29).
The roosters fed pumpkin seed oil and the vitamin E oil mixture had greater sperm concentration, sperm movement, and living sperm. They had less damaged sperm than the control group …as well as the groups fed with either pumpkin seed oil or sunflower seed oil only. (29).
Furthermore, a 2016 study tested the effects of pumpkin seed extract and ginger extract on the reproductive function of rats. Sixty rats were split into 6 groups of 10, and 3 of those groups were exposed to a cancer drug known to damage sperm (30).
The results showed that, compared with the control, groups fed a mix of pumpkin seed extracts and ginger extracts (300–600 mg per kg of body weight) saw significant increases in sperm count, sperm movement, and sperm quality (30).
Still, we need more research in humans before we can be sure whether and how pumpkin seed oil affects reproductive health — and whether pumpkin seed powder would have the same effects.
Pumpkin seed powder is naturally low carb, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, and dairy-free.
It doesn’t contain any of the top eight allergens — eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or milk (31).
Therefore, pumpkin seed powder fits most diets.
While pumpkin seed powder may work well for most people, you should avoid it if you have a pumpkin allergy or sensitivity. You may consider trying another source of plant protein powder, such as pea protein.
Pumpkin seed powder has a myriad of health benefits because of its high quality plant-powered protein, sleep-aiding iron, and disease-fighting antioxidants. You can’t forget about its heart-healthy fiber, positive influence on hair growth, potential reproductive health benefits, and ability to fit practically any diet.
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