Pumpkin seeds are more than 30 percent protein.
Pumpkin seeds contain active compounds of essential fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins.
Sources: University of South Carolina Spartanburg, Journal of Tongji Medical University, University of Oklahoma
Centuries before the pilgrims arrived in North America, Native Americans were using pumpkin seeds not just as food, but also for medicinal purposes. Colonial settlers quickly followed suit, relying on Pumpkin seeds to help a variety of ailments, from kidney problems to "female ills."
Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family (which also includes squash and cucumbers). Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the seeds of cucurbita plants are particularly nutrient-dense --they're an excellent natural source of zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium; vitamins A, E and the B-complex; omega-3 and omega-6, also known as essential fatty acids; and the beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acid, linolenic acid.
The nutrients in pumpkin seeds can guard and improve your health in a number of ways. According to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, pumpkin seeds are more than half (by weight) fat. But more than 80 percent of that fat is "good fat" -- the polyunsaturated kind that helps support the cardiovascular system by maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Vitamin E also has a positive effect on heart and circulatory system.
The high concentration of zinc in pumpkin seeds helps maintain a healthy bladder and urinary system. Germany's Commission E -- a scientific committee that collects data on herbal medicine and evaluates its safety and efficacy -- has approved using pumpkin seeds for bladder problems. Especially important for older men, the American Medical Association reports that the zinc and vitamin E in pumpkin seeds may help maintain a healthy prostate, and reduce symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. A handful three times a day is a good "dose." But if you'd rather not snack, pumpkin seed oil -- found as an extract or as an ingredient in nutritional supplements -- offers the same benefits.