Though small, pumpkin seeds are nutrient rich and a great source of protein. The health benefits of these little seeds range from antioxidant activity to improving immune function; they also have benefits for prostate health. New studies are underway to assess pumpkin seeds and cardiovascular health.
Studies have demonstrated that pumpkin seeds can have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors. Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of phytosterols that are involved reducing cholesterol absorption in the small intestine. They also contain linoleic acid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack. Studies have also demonstrated that pumpkin seeds increase the levels of good cholesterol and reduce levels of bad cholesterol, which is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Pumpkin seeds are packed full of nutrients, fibre, and protein.
|Nutrient name||Value per 100 g|
|Fibre, total dietary||6.0g|
|Fatty acids, saturated, total||8.659g|
|Fatty acids, monounsaturated, total||16.242g|
|Fatty acids, polyunsaturated, total||20.976g|
|Fatty acids, polyunsaturated, total omega n-3||0.180g|
|Fatty acids, polyunsaturated, total omega n-6||20.700g|
(Derived from the Canadian Nutrient File)
The Texas Woman’s University, Institute of Health Sciences – Houston Center, Houston, Texas, United States, is currently recruiting participants for two clinical trials involving pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil. Both studies intend to examine the effect of pumpkin seeds on women’s cardiovascular health.
The first study aims to assess whether consuming 1.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds per day will change the dietary fatty acid intake or blood pressure in women. Dietary fatty acid intake will be assessed 3 times during the 12 week period; monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acid levels will be measured. Blood pressure will also be measured during the 12 week period to determine if increasing pumpkin seed intake will have any effect on blood pressure. Participants included in the trial will be healthy women who are 18 years of age or older. Women will not be eligible to participate in the study if they are pregnant, have high blood pressure, or are currently taking blood pressure medication.
The second study will look at the effects of pumpkin seed oil supplementation on blood pressure in premenopausal women. Women who are recruited for the study will receive 2 grams per day of pumpkin seed oil supplement. At the beginning of the study, 1 week after, and 12 weeks after the beginning of the study, blood pressure will assessed, in addition to BMI, body fat, activity level, dietary nutrient, and dietary phytoestrogen content. Women 18 years of age or older, who are premenopausal will be eligible to participate in the study. Women will not be included if they are currently taking blood pressure medication, taking estrogen supplements, taking pumpkin seed oil supplements, or eat pumpkin seeds more than once a month
Clinicaltrials.gov “Pumpkin Seed Oil Supplementation in Premenopausal Women” Available from: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02119429?term=pumpkin+seeds&recr=Open&no_unk=Y&rank=2 Last Accessed: Feb 26, 2015.
Clinicaltrials.gov “Effect of Pumpkin Seeds on the Dietary Fatty Acid Intake and Blood Pressure in Women” Available from: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01928966?term=pumpkin+seeds&recr=Open&no_unk=Y&rank=1 Last Accessed: Feb 26, 2015.
“Canadian Nutrient File” Available from: http://webprod3.hc-sc.gc.ca/cnf-fce/start-debuter.do?lang=engLast Accessed: Feb 26, 2015.
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD