It’s the season of fall, which means it’s the season of all things pumpkins. Pumpkins are healthy, as are the different food products that they produce (excluding pumpkin spiced lattes). In fact, one pumpkin-based food that is becoming more popular amongst health enthusiasts beyond autumn is pumpkin seed oil.
You may think that the interest in pumpkin seed oil is rooted in all the fall fare that surrounds pumpkins. However, that is not the case. Rich in vitamins, antioxidants as well as unsaturated fatty acids, the pumpkin seed oil is an oil that needs to be kept in your kitchen pantry all year round.
What is pumpkin seed oil?
Pumpkin seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the Cucurbita pepo pumpkin, and the Cucurbita maxima pumpkin. The oil is extracted from the pumpkin seeds, using pressure rather than heat. This is done to ensure that the oil retains all the nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit the body as using heat to extract the oil would destroy these essential nutrients.
Following the extraction, the final product is either dark green or deep red oil.
Does it have any benefits?
As mentioned, pumpkin seed oil contains a range of essential nutrients that can have a beneficial effect on the body. One of these is the unsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid, and linoleic acid.
That said, let’s delve into why pumpkin seed oil should be replacing all your favorite oils.
The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, the bladder, and the urethra and is responsible for filtering blood and creating urine as a waste product.
According to a study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, after receiving between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil extract for 12 weeks, a group of participants noticed an improvement in their bladder health. They experienced relief from overactive bladder symptoms, including bed wetting.
If you’re looking to reduce your risk of breast cancer, research has found that pumpkin seeds are incredibly capable of reducing the risk of breast cancer (1).
There is also research that suggests that pumpkin seed oil may help support the health of cancer patients. The study, published in the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics, found that the antioxidants found in the oil helped to alleviate as well as prevent symptoms, including small intestinal damage, associated with methotrexate – a treatment used for several types of cancer as well as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Pumpkin seed oil is incredibly rich in both unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. These two compounds serve to protect heart health in a number of different ways.
For one, pumpkin seed oil contains cholesterol-like compounds known as phytosterols. As they are similarly structured to cholesterol, phytosterols can lower cholesterol, which can then serve to protect heart health (2).
In addition, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in pumpkin seed oil have also been linked to lowering blood pressure, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disorders such as heart disease and stroke.
Moreover, research published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers found that pumpkin seed oil helped to reduce the risk of blood clots by improving circulation.
For those battling menopausal symptoms, pumpkin seed oil could be the answer to alleviating those symptoms, thanks to its phytosterols and phytoestrogens content.
According to a study published in the journal Climacteric, 35 menopausal women experienced a decrease in hot flashes, joint pain, and headaches after taking pumpkin seed oil. They also noted an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.
If you want to prioritize your mental health, then you may need to consume more pumpkin seed oil. In fact, anecdotal evidence has found that it can help ward off depression.
The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found a strong association between pumpkin seeds and children battling depression. Additionally, an animal study from the International Journal of Pharma Medicine and Biological Sciences also found that pumpkin seeds helped to alleviate symptoms of depression.
That said, if you are facing challenges with your mental health, it’s important to reach out and talk to someone.
Worried about the health of the men in your life? Try getting them to add pumpkin seed oil to their diets. In fact, pumpkin seed oil could be the very thing that can help protect their prostate health.
Benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) is a condition whereby the prostate becomes enlarged. Aside from being extremely painful, BPH can also result in bladder stones and reduced kidney function and can also increase the risk of prostate cancer. However, research published in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice found that pumpkin seed oil, when used in conjunction with palmetto oil, helped to improve BPH symptoms amongst a group of Korean men.
Also, there is research that has linked pumpkin seeds to reducing the growth of prostate cancer cells (3).
With pumpkin seed oil, you can ensure that your skin remains healthy, all while aging gracefully.
Pumpkin seed oil is not only rich in antioxidants, but it also contains high levels of vitamin E. Both of these compounds help to maintain the health of the skin. For instance, a study published in the European Food Research & Technology journal found that it helped to reduce acne, fight off free radicals as well as alleviate the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Pumpkin seed oil isn’t just great for your skin – it’s also great for your hair. Research published in the Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, had a group of men take 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil in capsule form every day for 24 weeks. At the end of the study, the researchers noted that men had 40% more hair growth.
Where can I find pumpkin seed oil?
Unrefined, virgin, and cold-pressed, organic pumpkin seed oil can be found in various places be it the health store, or even online.
Additionally, pumpkin seed oil is also available in supplement form.
How should one use pumpkin seed oil?
It’s important not to cook with pumpkin seed oil as it has a low smoke point. This means that exposing it to heat will seriously damage all the healthy nutrients it contains. As it has a nutty flavor, it’s best to drizzle it over your salads and desserts. You can even add it to your soups and stews.
When storing it, remember to store it in a cool, dark place. This is because exposure to light can turn rancid.
Want to know more?
Click here to read about the ideal high-protein pumpkin pancake recipe that’s perfect for you if you’ve run out of breakfast ideas.