Pumpkin seed oil extracts come from the Cucurbita maxima or Cucurbita pepo (summer squash) varieties of pumpkins and are best had in a cold-pressed, virgin, and unrefined state for optimal health benefits. Full of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and other nutrients, pumpkin seed oil may improve certain health problems and reduce the risk of developing dangerous chronic diseases.
Pumpkin Seed Oil: Nutrition Facts
Medicinal pumpkins seeds, called pepitas, are not all like the white seeds found in carving pumpkins around Halloween and Thanksgiving. When shelled, most pumpkin seeds are small green ovals that contain the following nutritional profile per 1-ounce serving:
- Fats: 13 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Manganese: 42% of the recommended Daily Value (DV)
- Magnesium: 37% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 33% of the DV
- Iron: 23% of the DV
- Copper: 19% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 18% of the DV
- Zinc: 14% of the DV
Full of other antioxidant and phytosterol compounds, pumpkin seed oil is more than just nutrient dense.
The Top 7 Pumpkin Seed Oil Health Benefits
Just what is pumpkin seed oil good for? Pumpkin seeds and concentrated pumpkin seed oil have the following scientifically informed health benefits and uses.
1. Antioxidant Protection
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants like vitamin E and carotenoids that help to prevent the harm done by free radicals, plus reduce our levels of oxidative stress. Excessive inflammation in the body can contribute to many different diseases and disorders, from cardiovascular disease to mental health conditions. Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to reduce inflammation without any adverse side effects—unlike anti-inflammatory drug treatments.
2. Heart Health Support
Thanks to the antioxidants, zinc, magnesium, and fatty acids (like linoleic and oleic acids) contained in pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil can help contribute to heart health. Animal studies indicate that pumpkin seed oil may reduce two huge risk factors for heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure levels, but luckily in this arena there have been human studies delving deeper.
In one study from 2011 on postmenopausal women, pumpkin seed oil was able to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol by 16% and reduce diastolic blood pressure by 7% over 12 weeks. Moreover, there is some evidence that the use of pumpkin to increase nitric oxide production in the body may also contribute to heart health (as well as to skincare and wound healing due to improved circulation), though further research is needed to reach a scientific consensus.
This goes to illustrate that sometimes the results of animal studies do bear out when applied to human test conditions, and that the effects of pumpkin seed oil led to improved cholesterol levels as well as lower blood pressure in both instances.
3. Prostate and Bladder Aid
The plant compounds in pumpkin seeds may help improve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) wherein an enlarged prostate causes urinary disorders. Human studies show that Styrian pumpkin seed oil (a Cucurbita pepo variety of pumpkin grown in the Styrian region of Austria) helps reduce BPH symptoms.
This 2009 study conducted for a year on 1,400 Korean men with BPH revealed that consuming pumpkin seed oil lowered their symptoms, improved their flow of urine, and boosted their quality of life without any adverse reactions. Further human studies show that pumpkin seed extract can help men and women with overactive bladders improve their urinary function as well.
If you’re wondering how much pumpkin seed oil for prostate health is appropriate, participants in the above-linked study received 320 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil per day. Similar beneficial results were also seen with a group taking saw palmetto oil, though combining the two did not produce significantly higher improvement than each taken alone.
The amount of pumpkin seed oil administered for overactive bladder patients was 500-1,000 milligrams per day.
4. Increase Hair Growth
Curious how to use pumpkin seed oil for hair loss? A 2014 study titled Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial and published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that over a 24-week period, men who consumed pumpkin seed oil had 40% more hair growth than men in the placebo control group (who had only a 10% increase), with no adverse side effects reported.
Though privately funded, researchers stipulated that they had no conflict of interest, so if you’re wondering how to use pumpkin seed oil for hair growth, refer to this study in which the test group took 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil each day.
5. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Multiple animal studies have found that the health benefits of pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin juice, and pumpkin seed powder include an ability to lower blood sugar. Likewise people with type 2 diabetes who supplemented with organic pumpkin seed powder or juice enjoyed lowered blood sugar levels (among other benefits). Some researchers attribute this effect to the magnesium content in pumpkin seeds.
A 2004 observational study on over 120,000 men and women found that those whose diets were high in magnesium had about a 33% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. While more research is needed, consuming pumpkin in any form is safe enough to try for the purpose of improving blood sugar levels.
6. Improve Sleep
Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of the amino acid tryptophan, which you may know from your Thanksgiving turkey helps to promote restful sleep. Science shows that taking in at least 1 gram of tryptophan a day may help improve sleep, not to mention the contribution that magnesium makes to the health of your sleep cycle. Pumpkin seed oil is even more concentrated than just snacking on pumpkin seeds, so if you have problems getting to or staying asleep, it might be worth incorporating pumpkin seed oil into your routine.
7. Anti-Cancer Effects
We’ve saved the best benefit for last. Diets that include pumpkin seeds are linked with a reduced risk of developing lung, breast, stomach, colon, and prostate cancer. With multiple studies done revealing the reduced risk of breast cancer, laboratory studies have also suggested pumpkin seeds may help slow the rate of prostate cancer cell growth.
Be a Pumpkin Eater
The health benefits of pumpkin seed oil can be gained from supplements or by using it as a salad dressing or cooking oil. Full of antioxidants and with promising scientific research in areas of heart health, hair growth, and cancer prevention, pumpkin seed oil can be enjoyed for its flavor or used as a complementary medicine, or both! Best of all, it’s easy to add pumpkin seeds, juice, or oil to your regular diet.