Pumpkin seeds – rich in zinc

Pumpkin seed kernels, raw, unsalted.

Pumpkin seed kernels are a good source of protein, essential fats, fiber, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals – and a great source of zinc which may be lacking in vegetarian or vegan diets. (Pumpkin Seeds – Benefits, nutrition and dietary tips.) (Other vegetarian sources of zinc.)

Work is progressing on the development of pumpkin seed flour for use as a food thickening substance for use in gravies or other sauces or stews. It would increase the protein, essential fatty acids, and other trace nutrient content of the resulting foods. (10) The use of pumpkin seeds in the diet may also prove to be protective against cancer and liver or kidney injury; and as a good source of antioxidants such as carotenoids (vitamin A family of nutrients) the use of pumpkin seeds in the diet may prove to be helpful against many conditions that involve excess oxidative stress. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) They are also a source of vitamin E (tocopherols), other phytosterols, and linoleic acid, a beneficial polyunsaturated fat. Pumpkin seed oil may be helpful in wound healing. (15) Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of phospholipids, (16), which are important for skin and membrane health.

Pumpkins are considered a drought tolerant plant for gardeners. Adequate water is needed to grow larger pumpkin and squash but the vines can survive limited water conditions. The seeds of other summer and winter squash are also nutrient rich and also may be more drought tolerant plants. (11, 12) Enough but not too much water at the right times are critical. Flooding or severe drought may both harm the garden yield. Mulching and drip irrigation or other watering methods applied at optimal stages of growth can be the water thrifty solution for best yield. (13, 14)

The seeds of butternut squash and some types of winter squash can be collected when trimming the squash and later toasted and eaten as a crunchy nutritious snack. India grocery markets may also have shelled squash seeds available for sale. They are slightly smaller and paler in color than the shelled pumpkin kernels in the image above.

Magnesium is one of the beneficial nutrients found in pumpkin seeds. It is a mineral that is needed in greater quantity during pregnancy and high blood pressure/hypertension can be a symptom of deficiency. Preeclampsia and the more severe eclampsia are complications characterized by high blood pressure and edema/swelling that can occur during pregnancy. Toxins collect in the excess fluid buildup and can risk a brain condition similar to hypertension encephalopathy in the more severe eclampsia. Seizure activity can result and death for the woman and expected infant are risks. Magnesium is used as an intravenous or intramuscular injection to reduce risk of the seizures during eclampsia. The mineral seems to help protect the blood brain barrier and reduce swelling in the brain during eclampsia. It’s role as an antioxidant to reduce free radical toxins may be involved but the exact mechanism for its benefit in eclampsia is not known. (2, page 139)

More information about preclampsia is available in a previous post, and more information about food sources and supplement sources of magnesium is also available in a previous post.

I have several writing projects in draft mode however they overlap – pumpkin seeds, a good source of magnesium and zinc, helped my previous prenatal clients who had a history of preeclampsia or high blood pressure in a previous pregnancy prevent a reocurrence of the problem. Why? Possibly because of the magnesium and other beneficial nutrients which could be protecting the blood brain barrier and might then also be helpful for preventing harm to oligodendrocytes and protect against demyelination – a risk that can occur with some types of encephalopathy (3).

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827242/Megan Ware, What are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds?, July 24, 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303864.php
  2. Mehmet Kaya, Bulent Ahishali, Chapter 9: The role of magnesium in edema and blood brain barrier disruption, page 139, in the book edited by Robert Vink, Mihai Nechifor, Magnesium in the Central Nervous System, University of Adelaide Press, 2011, adelaide.edu.au, free ebook pdf, https://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/magnesium/magnesium-ebook.pdf  (2
  3. S. Love, Demyelinating Diseases, J Clin Pathol. 2006 Nov; 59(11): 1151–1159.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1860500/ (3)
  4. Scientific Studies collection on a commercial website by Pepo Farms, https://pepofarms.com.au/scientificstudies/ (4) which includes:
  5. M. Gossell-Williams, A. Davis, N. O’Connor, Inhibition of Testosterone-Induced Hyperplasia of the Prostate of Sprague-Dawley Rats by Pumpkin Seed Oil. Jun 2006, Vol. 9, No. 2 : 284 -286. 
  6. C. Z. Nkosi, A. R. Opoku, S. E. Terblanche, Antioxidative effects of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate in CCl4-Induced liver injury in low-protein fed rats.
  7. Fahim AT Abd-el Fattah AA Agha AM Gad MZ
    Effect of pumpkin-seed oil on the level of free radical scavengers induced during adjuvant-arthritis in rats.
    In: Pharmacol Res (1995 Jan) 31(1):73-9 ISSN: 1043-6618
  8. Suphakarn VS Yarnnon C Ngunboonsri P, The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area. In: Am J Clin Nutr (1987 Jan) 45(1):115-21 ISSN: 0002-9165
  9. Matus Z Molnar P Szabo LG [Main carotenoids in pressed seeds (Cucurbitae semen) of oil pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo convar. pepo var. styriaca)] Olajtok (Cucurbita pepo convar. pepo var. styriaca) magjabol nyert presmaradek ossz-karotinoid-tartalmanak es karotinoid-osszetetelenek meghatarozasa. In: Acta Pharm Hung (1993 Sep) 63(5):247-56 ISSN: 0001-6659 (Published in Hungarian)  * The main carotenoids included per the Pepo Farms site: “The main components of the press-residue were lutein [3,3′-dihydroxy-alpha-carotene = (3R,3’R,6’R)-beta,epsilon-carotene-3,3′-diol; 52.5%] and beta- carotene (beta,epsilon-carotene; 10.1%). In addition to the above- mentioned pigments it was successful to reveal the presence of violaxanthin, luteoxanthin, auroxanthin epimers, lutein epoxide, flavoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, 9(9′)-cis-lutein, 13(13′)-cis- lutein, 15-cis-lutein (central-cis)-lutein, alpha-cryptoxanthin, beta- cryptoxanthin and alpha-carotene (beta,epsilon-carotene) in small quantities.”  (4)
  10. Initial food technology research on the preparation and use of pumpkin seed flour for use in more nutritious gravy type sauces: Sharma G, Lakhawat S., Development, Quality Evaluation and Acceptability of Pumpkin Seed Flour Incorporated in Gravy. J Nutr Food Sci 7:613. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000613      https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/development-quality-evaluation-and-acceptability-of-pumpkin-seed-flourincorporated-in-gravy-2155-9600-1000613.php?aid=91345
  11. EllenB, Growing Drought Tolerant Vegetables, June 9, 2009, ThriftyFun.com, https://www.thriftyfun.com/Growing-Drought-Tolerant-Vegetables.html (11)
  12. Troy Scott, Drought Tolerant Vegetables for your Garden, July 9 2018, HeavenlyGreens.com http://www.heavenlygreens.com/blog/drought-tolerant-vegetables-for-your-garden (12)
  13. Joan Morris, Vegetable Gardening in a Drought, mercurynews.com, April 1, 2015,  https://www.mercurynews.com/2015/04/01/vegetable-gardening-in-a-drought/ (13)
  14. Extension Utah State University, Vegetable Irrigation: Squash and Pumpkin, Horticulture/Vegetables/2015-4,   https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1744&context=extension_curall (14)
  15. Bardaa S, Ben Halima N, Aloui F, et al. Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2016;15:73. doi:10.1186/s12944-016-0237-0. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827242/ (15)
  16. Zh.Y. Petkova, G.A. Antova, Changes in the composition of pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita moschata) during development and maturation. Grassas Y Aceites, 66 (1), Jan–March 2015, e058. http://grasasyaceites.revistas.csic.es/index.php/grasasyaceites/article/viewFile/1523/1658 (16)

Breast milk is best for baby – and for the workplace, healthy infants > fewer sick days

A pair of substantial mammary glands have the advantage over
the two hemispheres of the most learned professor’s brain
in the art of compounding a nutritive fluid for infants.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes (todo.7) (Substantial isn’t necessary, small but fully mature breasts can make plenty of milk for baby too. – Enough food in well balanced amount for mom is still essential however.)
Breastfeeding is an instinctual and natural act,
but it is also an art that is learned day by day.
It is almost always simply a matter of practical knowledge
and not a question of good luck.
– La Leche League (todo.7) (Moms and babies both can use a little guidance from someone who has experience with the mechanics of positioning and suckling – like riding a bicycle mom has experience with the second and later children but even then the babies still may have difficulty and some guidance may be helpful even for an experienced mom. La Leche League is a volunteer group dedicated to helping promote and help successful breastfeeding relationships between mothers and their infants.)
When we trust the makers of baby formula
more than we do our own ability to nourish our babies,
we lose a chance to claim an aspect of our power as women.
It is an act of female power,
and I think of it as feminism in its purest form.
– Christine Northrup (todo.7) (Infant formula is a blessing for those who are unable to make sufficient breast milk or for babies who don’t tolerate it well or need other specialized nutrition support but there are immune and autoimmune factors that help the infant that only mom herself can make. Human milk also has factors that support a healthy intestinal microbiome (good guy bacteria) and phospholipids which can help promote a healthy appetite and positive growth rate in the infant. While chocolate has a tiny amount of caffeine, its source cocoa beans also have a good supply of phospholipids, choose a lower sugar, lower fat dark chocolate or use Baker’s chocolate and make your own chocolate treats to maximize the phospholipid and other antioxidant content. Pomegranate seeds also contain a good supply of phospholipids, (pomegranate seed oil analysis, P.14) cardamom spice, (P.15), and dark green leafy vegetables and herbs such as oregano, basil, and rosemary are also good sources. Phospholipids are found in membranes and are more plentiful in nuts, seeds and other leafy vegetables. Pumpkin seeds are a good source. (P.8 , 9, 10)
Pumpkin seed kernel oil is being investigated as a medical treatment and was found to be more effective for wound healing in an animal study than the standard wound care ointment or no treatment control groups. (P.11)
Pomegranate seed oil has been investigated as a dietary supplement in an animal based study and found to positively affect fatty acid balance. The discussion suggests consideration as a dietary alternative source for the beneficial fatty acid CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid. (P.16)
To do – write this up in more detail for the effectivecare.info website, initially intended for the gender discrimination section 11 of the policy part but additional information on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds /the food information was added to the home page, I still need to do the additional breastfeeding section though/ – to explain the (todo.footnotes). The reference list below includes notes to expand on at a later time.
In the meantime – pumpkin seed kernels are the inner green part that have been shelled. Their texture is similar to sunflower seed kernels but their oil content has a more health promoting nutrient balance than the oil content of sunflower seed kernels. Ideally shop for raw pumpkin seed kernels that are not salted. Salted, roasted pumpkin seeds may also be labeled Pepitos and the salt content may be excessive if eaten in much quantity. An 1/8th to 1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seed kernels, 2 to 4 Tablespoons might be a reasonable serving size of the unsalted type or lightly salted and roasted types. Roasting the seeds increases the phospholipid content but also increases some more negative oxidation chemicals which would decrease some of the benefits of the oil. (P.12) For freshness of the roasted snack, the raw pumpkin seed kernels can be lightly pan roasted for a few minutes with a dash of oil until they puff a little. Toss with a sprinkle of salt and let cool on a paper towel to absorb extra oil. Store any extra in an airtight container to retain crispiness and prevent further oxidation.
(Oxidation of seeds or nuts: spoilage of the oils due to contact with oxygen from the air. Storing all nuts and seeds in airtight containers in a cool or even freezing temperature extends their safe eating shelf life. Rancid oil has a recognizable odor and bad taste and nuts and seeds should be discarded rather than eaten if they have gotten too old and turned rancid as the oxidized oils can be unhealthy, especially if eaten in a larger quantity. One or two wouldn’t be a problem but once the off-taste is noticed throw away the remainder of the package or possibly you might be able to return it to the store if it was a recent purchase. (P.13))
I discuss pumpkin seed kernels as a prenatal healthy food that might help prevent high blood pressure problems on the home page of the website effectivecare.info. It is still a work in progress, un-peer reviewed and draft version in some sections but potentially life saving information is something that I feel deserves to be shared, even if in draft version. The more life threatening type prenatal complication that can include high blood pressure called pre-eclampsia is also discussed in more detail on that website, Preeclampsia and TRP Channels, based on information that has helped former prenatal clients I’ve helped and with more recent information and ,medical hypothesis research posted online by others.
/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./
  1. Liz Ryan, Ten Things Never, Ever to Wear to Work, a Q/A article which also discusses the value in more flexible policies based on regular conversations during office hours rather than punitive, gotcha breaking the policy reprimands that go into an employee record. forbes.com Oct. 30, 2017 https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/10/30/ten-things-never-ever-to-wear-to-work/?nowelcome=1#938e2af4d9bf (P.1)
  2. What does feminism have to do with breastfeeding? Breastfeeding Medicine, 6/12/2010 https://bfmed.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/what-does-feminism-have-to-do-with-breastfeeding/ (todo.2), Discusses the value of breastfeeding and the issue of class and choice. Women have to be able to afford to have the time off work to be able to breastfeed for the recommended six months, best for baby. If work place policies were more supportive of all women being able to breastfeed, or pump at work, then there wouldn’t be a class issue rich can afford and poor can’t, or seemingly antifeminist, Stay at Home Mom versus Working Mom.
  3. Kara Stiles, The Unsettling Truth about Women and Retirement, forbes.com, Dec. 7, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/karastiles/2017/12/07/the-unsettling-truth-about-women-and-retirement/#2b0070991b63 (todo.3) discusses the grim reality of caregivers being primarily women and that the choice or need to be a stay at home mom also means less accrual of Social Security weeks of work over the career lifetime and less accrual of retirement plan savings. Also mentions the difference in life expectancy between men and women and that women living longer are also having more medical expenses to pay on average, over the longer average lifespan.
  4. Brooke Hauser, I Shared a ‘Real’ Parenting Photo on Social Media—And the Response I Got Shocked Me, health.com, July 5, 2017,  http://www.health.com/family/real-parenting-photo-gloria-steinem (todo.4) Real life story of a working mom who breastfeeds and has two children preschool age or younger. also touches on the increased number of roles women have in our social media and progressive, protest era with a cameo of Gloria Steinem and hat-tip to her role in opening the door to working women who are also mothers.

  5. Caroline Bologna “If Men Breastfed” Video: Shows a Very Different Experience for Working Dads; Women deserve better, HuffingtonPost.com, 12/6/2016 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/video-imagines-what-life-would-be-like-if-men-could-breastfeed_us_5845d89de4b02f60b0246f7b (todo.5) a hat-tip to Gloria Steinem’s 1978 essay “If Men Could Menstruate,” in an ad for a breast pump company’s introduction of a breast pump, advertised to be an improvement on the currently available models (which are fairly bad, imo, unless you have money for a better electric model or high quality handpump, hand expressing actually works well or better for some women – warning the five minute model in the humorous video would be impossible if not dangerous or dangerous if not impossible.)
  6. Medela, How to Manually Express Breastmilk, the Marmet Techniquehttps://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/tips-and-solutions/130/how-to-manually-express-breastmilk—the-marmet-technique (todo.6) How to tips, and safety, avoid these motions guidance, with illustrations. Medela is a long established lactation supply company with high quality electric and hand breast pumps and educational materials for women.
  7. Cherie, Natural Mama, NZ, My favorite breastfeeding and feminist quoteshttp://naturalmamanz.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-favourite-breastfeeding-and-feminist.html (todo.7)
  8. Zh.Y. Petkova and G.A. Antova, Changes in the composition of pumpkin seeds, (Cucurbita moschata) during development and maturation, Grasas Aceites 66 (1): e058   http://grasasyaceites.revistas.csic.es/index.php/grasasyaceites/article/viewArticle/1523/1657 (P.8) Most phospholipid content was present in the seeds 30 days after flowering, and the amount diminished at 60 and 90 days. Other nutrient content also tended to diminish in amounts except for an increase in starch and fiber content.
  9. Bhalchandra P Vibhute, Dhiraj R Bhide, Vijay Y Karadbhajne, Anand S Kulkarni and RR Khotpa, Fatty Acid Profile of Pumpkin and Bael Seed Lipids of Central India Region, Research & ReviewsISSN: 2320-0189 RRJBS | Volume 2 | Issue 2 | April – June, 2013  http://www.rroij.com/open-access/fatty-acid-profile-of-pumpkin-and-bael-seed-lipids-of-central-india-region-1-3.pdf (P.9)
  10. Tri Joko Raharjo* Laily Nurliana, and Sabirin Mastjeh, Phospholipids from Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata (Duch.) Poir) Seed Kernel Oil and Their Fatty Acid Composition, Indo. J. Chem., 2011, 11 (1), 48 – 52 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.917.3544&rep=rep1&type=pdf (P.10) this is a longer article which goes into more detail about types of phospholipids and mentions a few health benefits. The research team found 1.03% dry weight phospholipid content in pumpkin seeds including three types: “a) phosphatidylcholine (PC); b) phosphatidylserin (PS); c) phosphatidylethanolamine (PE).”
  11. Sana Bardaa, Nihed Ben Halima, Fatma Aloui, Riadh Ben Mansour, Hazem Jabeur, Mohamed Bouaziz, and Zouheir Sahnoun,

    Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats, Lipids Health Dis. 2016; 15: 73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4827242/ (P.11)

  12. Vesna Vujasinovic, Sonja Djilas, Etelka Dimic, Zorica Basic, Olga Radocaj, The effect of roasting on the chemical composition and oxidative stability of pumpkin oil, European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, Volume 114, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 568–574, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejlt.201100158/abstract (P.12)

  13. Sheela Prakash, How to Store Nuts and Seeds, Kitchen Confidence, food52.com, Sept. 17, 2014, https://food52.com/blog/11275-how-to-store-nuts-and-seeds (P.13)

  14. Zahra Amri,  Houda Lazreg-Aref, Manel Mekni, Sinda El-Gharbi, Olfa Dabbaghi, Beligh Mechri, and Mohamed Hammami, Oil Characterization and Lipids Class Composition of Pomegranate SeedsBiomed Res Int. 2017; 2017: 2037341.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5546132/ (P.14)

  15. Arlen Frank, Chemistry of Plant Phosphorus CompoundsElsevierJun 3, 2013, Chapter 4, Phospholipids, page 247,   https://books.google.com/books?id=6btpFSV1T2YC&pg=PA247&lpg=PA247&dq=cardamom+seed+phospholipid+content&source=bl&ots=14OEP3GnC6&sig=r4Ga99NGKjp2PfB2TVs4jQDxuJk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiKlNPttpLYAhUG1oMKHczmDc0Q6AEIPzAG#v=onepage&q=cardamom%20seed%20phospholipid%20content&f=false (P.15)

  16. Agnieszka BiałekAgnieszka StawarskaJoanna Bodecka,   Małgorzata Białek, Andrzej TokarzPomegranate seed oil influences the fatty acids profile and reduces the activity of desaturases in livers of Sprague-Dawley rats.

    Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators, Vol. 131, July 2017, pp 9-16, ScienceDirect.com http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1098882316301654 (P.16)

Other links:

Limonene: Terpenes 101