The seeds scooped out of your Halloween pumpkin are easy to roast, but even if you prefer the convenience of the store-bought variety, pumpkin seeds offer a mineral-rich snack. Pumpkin seeds are one of the top sources of magnesium and also supply several other minerals, while the hull contains valuable fiber. Beware of salted pumpkin seeds -- some brands have as much as one-third of your daily intake per serving.
Pumpkin seeds are low in carbs but have enough calories from fat and protein to ruin your diet if you don’t watch your portions. A 1-ounce serving of roasted whole seeds, or about 85 seeds, has 126 calories. The same portion of roasted kernels contains 163 calories, reports NutritionValue.org.
A serving of whole seeds provides 11 percent of the daily value for protein, while a serving of kernels has 17 percent. Like all daily values, this percentage is based on consuming 2,000 calories daily.
Fiber keeps your digestive tract healthy, lowers cholesterol and helps balance blood sugar. You’ll get 7 percent of the daily value for fiber from an ounce of kernels, while the fiber in whole seeds jumps to 21 percent of the daily value.
Pumpkin seed kernels are packed with heart-healthy fats. They have 14 grams of total fat per serving, with 80 percent coming from mono- and polyunsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol. A 1-ounce serving of whole pumpkin seeds only has 5 grams of fat, however.
Pumpkin seeds may also boost good cholesterol. A pilot study published in the medical journal Climacteric in October 2011 reported that levels of good cholesterol increased in postmenopausal women who took pumpkin seed oil.
Magnesium helps your body produce energy and synthesize DNA and antioxidants. It ensures your heart, muscles and nerves work properly, and it’s essential for building strong bones.
A 2013 review in PLoS One reported that getting enough magnesium may reduce the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from cardiovascular disease by 15 percent.
Pumpkin kernels make a significant dent in your recommended daily intake of magnesium because an ounce provides 39 percent of the daily value. If you eat an ounce of whole seeds, you’ll still get 19 percent of the daily value.
Manganese is a trace mineral with several big roles. It's used to make antioxidants that protect the energy-producing ability of cells, helps metabolize nutrients and is needed to make neurotransmitters in the brain.
When diabetic laboratory mice were fed supplemental manganese, their insulin secretion and tolerance to glucose improved, reported a study in Endocrinology in March 2013. The researchers attributed the benefits to a boost in antioxidants from the manganese.
Most of the pumpkin seed’s manganese is in the kernel, with 1 ounce supplying 64 percent of the daily value. An ounce of whole pumpkin seeds only provides 7 percent of the daily value.
Whether it’s the whole seed or the kernel, they’re good sources of zinc and copper. An ounce of pumpkin seed kernels offers 13 percent of the daily value for copper and 14 percent for zinc, while whole seeds provide 10 percent and 19 percent of the daily value for copper and zinc, respectively.
Both minerals support your metabolism, but zinc is essential for producing DNA and protein, while copper is used to produce energy and build connective tissue. Zinc and copper combine to form a strong antioxidant that helps keep red blood cells and lungs healthy.
- NutritionValue.org: Seeds, Without Salt, Roasted, Pumpkin and Squash Seed Kernels
- NutritionValue.org: Seeds, Without Salt, Roasted, Whole, Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- PLoS One: Magnesium and the Risk of Cardiovascular Events: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Climacteric: Improvement in HDL Cholesterol in Postmenopausal Women Supplemented With Pumpkin Seed Oil: Pilot Study
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Endocrinology: Manganese Supplementation Protects Against Diet-Induced Diabetes in Wild Type Mice by Enhancing Insulin Secretion
- Linus Pauling Institute: Copper
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seeds, Pumpkin and Squash Seeds, Whole, Roasted, With Salt Added