Aside from the pumpkin seed health benefits for men, involving DHT, hair loss and prostate enlargement, what are some of the other ways eating pumpkin seeds can help to improve our health and protect against diseases?
Pumpkin Seeds, Cholesterol and Phytosterols
Phytosterols are compounds in certain plant-based foods that are structurally similar to the cholesterol found in meat and other animal food sources. Because of this similarity, phytosterols tend to inhibit cholesterol absorption during digestion, especially when consumed with a high cholesterol meal.
Phytosterol supplements have become a popular way to reduce LDL cholesterol problems (though you should discuss this with your doctor if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medication or being treated for high cholesterol levels). While not at the same level of these supplements, pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of phytosterols of any nut or seed. With around 260 mg in every hundred grams of raw pumpkin seeds, only sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts rank higher.
Kidney Stones and Pumpkin Seeds
Research has suggested that pumpkin seeds in the diet may help lower calcium-oxalate crystal occurrence in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney stones. The results also showed that the longer the pumpkin seeds were taken, the better the reduction in calcium-oxalate levels (The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
At least 10 g of pumpkin seeds a day has been suggested for kidney stone prevention, but you’d need to eat them often. Bulk pumpkin seeds are generally much better value if you decide to make pumpkin seeds a regular snack.
Pumpkin Seeds and Bladder Problems
Bladder problems, including urinary incontinence and an overactive bladder leading to excessive nighttime urinary frequency in particular, affects many people over 60 in the United States, especially women.
A recent study of postmenopausal women, using a new water-soluble pumpkin seed extract, found significant improvement in urinary incontinence and nighttime urination’s over a six-week period (Clinical study of mixed processed foods containing of pumpkin seed extract and soybean germ extract on pollakiuria in night in elder women – Japanese Journal of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science).
Pumpkin seeds have traditionally been used for alleviating urinary problems and an ‘irritable bladder’ so eating the raw seeds may also help reduce bladder problems.
Pumpkin Seeds and Arthritis
It is estimated that by the year 2030 there will be nearly 70 million Americans diagnosed with arthritis. Many people suffering from arthritis are currently given the drug Indomethacin. It is used as an anti-inflammatory, but research has shown large amounts of pumpkin seeds in the diet has a similar effect to Indomethacin.
This beneficial effect on arthritis symptoms was achieved without increasing lipid peroxides in the lining of the joints (a side effect of Indomethacin which can actually increase arthritis symptoms in the long run) (Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review – Cambridge Journals).
It has being suggested that pumpkin seed oil, with its concentrated and fat soluble nutrients, may be even more useful in treating arthritis symptoms.
The rich array of nutrients in pumpkin seeds make them a very beneficial recipe addition or healthy snack. If you would like to get more of them into your diet you could replace peanut butter with the very tasty pumpkin seed butter, try making up a pumpkin seed pesto, or just eat them by the handful when you’re watching tv instead of the usual fattening junk food.