Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are commonly roasted and salted for a snack or garnish. They are also used as a crust for fish or chicken. Pumpkin seeds, whether roasted at home or purchased hulled, make a nutritious snack.
One quarter cup of roasted pumpkin seeds contains 169 calories and 4.34 grams of carbohydrates. They serve as a good, vegetarian source of protein with 8.8 grams, which is about 19 percent of The 46 grams of protein women need each day. Fiber in pumpkin seeds comes in at almost 2 grams per 1/4-cup serving. That's 8 percent of the 25 grams of fiber women under age 50 need each day and about 10 percent of the 21 grams women over 50 need on a daily basis.
Most of the 14.45 grams of fat in an ounce of pumpkin seeds is the heart-healthy unsaturated variety. In ¼-cup serving, there are 4.64 grams of monounsaturated fats and 5.86 grams of polyunsaturated fats. The American Heart Association notes that choosing foods high in unsaturated fats in lieu of those high in saturated and trans fats can have positive effects on cholesterol levels and overall health.
One quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides 46 percent of the daily recommended value for magnesium, 29 percent of iron, 52 percent of manganese and 24 percent of copper. Pumpkin seeds also are a good source of zinc, with 17 percent of the daily recommended value.
Pumpkin seeds are high in phytosterols, compounds that might help reduce cholesterol levels, enhance immunity and decrease the risk of developing certain cancers, says The World’s Healthiest Foods website. In a study in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2005, researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University listed the phytosterol content of pumpkin seeds at 265 milligrams per 100 grams, close to the amounts found in sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts.
Given their nutritional benefits, pumpkin seeds should be enjoyed year-round. Scoop them out of a pumpkin, rinse off the membrane, coat with cooking spray or olive oil and bake in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for an hour, stirring them every 10 to 15 minutes. Flavor them with chili powder, cumin and salt, cinnamon sugar or garlic salt. Use the savory versions in a salad with avocado, grapefruit and romaine lettuce. Sweetly flavored versions can be mixed into a cream cheese for a spread on bagels or toast, or used as a topping for pudding or ice cream. Add them to granola or popcorn for extra nutrition and texture.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Search the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry;" Phytosterol Composition of Nuts and Seeds Commonly Consumed in the United States; Katherine M. Phillip, David M. Ruggio, and Mehdi Ashraf-Khorassani; November 8, 2005
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- pumpkin seeds image by Leonid Nyshko from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.