Pumpkin Seeds vs. Pumpkin Seed Oil
If you’re a regular reader here, you probably already know how terrific pumpkin seeds — especially Styrian pumpkin seeds — are for your health, but did you know that consuming the seeds themselves and the pressed oil from the seeds each has its own set of benefits?
You may be wondering though, which is better for you: the seeds or the pressed oils?
We’ve broken down the benefits of both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oils so you can decide which is best for you based on what your personal health goals are.
Omega fatty acids
Both pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are rich in omega fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) and omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid) and omega-9 (oleic acid).
These fats are the good kind. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are important for a healthy body, but can’t be made internally. In order to get these fats you have to be conscious of getting them into your system through your diet.
Omega–3 fatty acids, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, reduce inflammation, promote heart health and are important for brain performance and memory.
Omega–6s are also essential for human health. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that omega–6s play a key role in normal growth and development along with brain function.
It’s important that your omega–3s and –6s balance, though. An ideal, healthy ratio of omega–6s to –3s is between 1:1 and 4:1. For most of us, this ratio is closer to 16:1, which is not a healthy situation. To learn more about your omega balance, check out our recent post, here.
Omega–9 is actually a non-essential fatty acid. Your body makes it itself when there is enough omega–3 and omega–6 essential fatty acids in your system. However, when there isn’t enough of those essential fatty acids, you must get omega–9 from your diet.
According to the Global Healing Center, omega–9 fatty acids promote heart health, balance cholesterol levels and improve your immune system.
Fatty acids are where pumpkin seed oil really shines. Styrian pumpkin seed oil is extremely rich in omega fatty acids. You’ll get a lot of the benefits from even a small dose.
In Vegetable Oils in Food Technology: Composition, Properties and Uses, author Frank Gunstone states that in all types of pumpkin seed oil “the fatty acid composition is dominated by linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. […] In styrian pumpkin seed oil, the average content of linoleic acid is 54.2% (range 35.6-60.8%) and oleic acid is 26.6% (range 21.0%-46.9%).”
If it’s fats you’re looking for, Styrian pumpkin oil is the way to go as it is almost completely composed of these healthy fatty acids.
Pumpkin seeds generally are rich in a number of vitamins. Vitamin E, specifically gamma-tocopherol, stands out, though, when considering the vitamin benefits of the seed.
Nutrition-and-you says vitamin E “is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant. It prevents tissue cells from the free radical mediated oxidant injury. Thus, it helps maintain the integrity of mucosa and skin by protecting from harmful free-oxygen radicals.”
Vitamin E can also be great for your skin and hair.
You can get the vitamin in both the seeds and the oil. Per 100 grams of pumpkin seed, you get 35.10 mg of tocopherol.
However, the oil content of a pumpkin seed is 50% according to a study done by the Graz University of Technology Department of Bio- and Food Chemistry and in that oil, a lot of vitamin E comes through.
Vitamin E is particularly high in Styrian pumpkin seed oil compared to your everyday pumpkin seed oil. Styrian pumpkin seed oil, according to Real Raw Food, is 5 times richer in vitamin E than olive oil when compared.
While you can get your vitamin E intake through both the seeds and the oil, you’ll get more vitamin E in a much smaller amount (and therefore fewer calories) when taking the oil.
Heart-healthy minerals and more
Not only do pumpkin seeds have fatty acids and vitamins that benefit your body, but they also have a variety of minerals that work to keep your body functioning.
Magnesium is one of those helpful minerals.
According to Dr. Mercola, a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds (a healthy snack size) contains almost half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.
From proper bone and tooth formation to proper bowel function and the relaxing of blood vessels, there’s a lot of good that magnesium can do for your body.
The biggest help, though, is how magnesium promotes heart health. Magnesium has been said to prevent heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest and even stroke, but Dr. Mercola says “an estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in this important mineral.”
In terms of getting magnesium into your system, seeds are the way to go. The research isn’t clear on whether or not minerals come through into pressed pumpkin oil and if so, how much.
Magnesium isn’t the only way that pumpkin seeds can help your heart, though.
Health and Energy Foods says that “Pumpkin seed oil has high levels of phytosterols which are believed to help reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) by lowering its absorption when taken with a meal containing cholesterol.”
A study done by the Department of Internal Medicine at Washington University shows that having phytosterols in your diet shows decreased cholesterol absorption which could in turn help prevent the risk of heart disease.
In your heart’s case, both the seeds and the oils can help in different ways.
Immunity & metabolism
Having a strong immune system and a healthy metabolism is important. Pumpkin seeds win over oils here because the minerals found in pumpkin seeds are what give your immune system and metabolism a boost.
For your immune system, the mineral that brings the biggest benefit is zinc. SELFNutritionData says that in a one cup serving of pumpkin seeds, your body gets 69% of the recommended daily value (RDV) of zinc (bear in mind, though, that that’s a lot of pumpkin seeds for one sitting… maybe stick to 1/4 or a 1/3 of that and augment with zinc from other food sources too).
A.Vogel’s blog tells us that “pumpkin seeds are one of the richest sources of Zinc which supports your body in many ways, including eye and skin health, sleep, mood, immunity and insulin regulation.”
A zinc deficiency can lead to being more susceptible to colds, flu, fatigue and more.
In terms of supporting a healthy metabolism, copper can do the trick. Yep, you guessed it, this mineral can also be found in pumpkin seeds. A one cup serving of pumpkin seeds has 96% of your RDV of copper (see above about serving sizes when it comes to these tasty, but calorie-dense seeds…).
SFGate says that “zinc and copper work together and separately to control metabolism — the series of chemical reactions that support your body’s function. […] Copper helps drive your metabolism by helping your cells produce energy. Your cells rely on a constant supply of energy to function, since the millions of chemical reactions occurring in your cells require some energy input. Copper helps you create adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, a molecule your cells use as fuel.”
Promote prostate health
This benefit can be had from both the whole seed and the oil, but research into the strength of the oil for boosting prostate health tends to give it the edge.
Dr. Mercola explains that pumpkin seeds have a “high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate).”
This benefit of pumpkin seed oil for the prostate has been extensively studied and tested. In a controlled study from the Nutrition Research and Practice journal, it was concluded that pumpkin seed oil can improve BPH symptoms.
The study was done by Korean researchers who administered a placebo of sweet potato starch to group A, pumpkin seed oil to group B, saw palmetto oil to group C and pumpkin seed oil and palmetto oil to group D to 47 different men suffering from BPH over the course of 12 months.
Through this study, it was concluded that both pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil improved the symptoms of BPH, with the most significant improvement after a six-month period occurring in the pumpkin seed oil group.
If you’ve got a prostate and you want to protect it, munch on a few pumpkin seeds for that zinc boost and swallow a teaspoon or two of the oil every day. For more on the ins and outs of pumpkin oil for your prostate, check out our recent post.
Pumpkin for healthier vital organs
Pumpkin seeds and seed oil can nourish many of your organs.
Pumpkin seeds, and especially pumpkin seed oil, is a great source of healthy fats and antioxidants as mentioned earlier. Pumpkin oil can support your liver, kidneys, bladder and even your brain.
According to Organic Facts, “pumpkin seeds have been connected with a reduction in toxins in the body, due to its diuretic properties, as well as the antioxidant activity. Furthermore, they stimulate circulation and increase the speed and processing of the livers and kidneys. Uric acid and various other toxins are therefore removed from the body, which means they cannot accumulate into dangerous kidney stones or other forms, like gout and arthritis, as mentioned earlier. Pumpkin seeds promote the health of the kidneys and helps to detoxify the body from top to bottom.”
In terms of your bladder, pumpkin seed oil, in particular, has been known to help treat overactive bladder or OAB. A recent study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine suggests pumpkin seed may be able to prevent symptoms of OAB and other urinary issues. We’ve got a more in-depth blog post about the surprising benefits of pumpkin oil for your bladder, here.
Finally, the fatty acids found in pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oils can improve the brain’s overall development and functionality.
Which is best for you?
Well, as it turns out, both are good for you in different ways. In order to get the most out of pumpkin seeds, we recommend eating both the seeds themselves and the pressed oil.
We also recommend going the Styrian route, for both the seed and the oil. Styrian pumpkin seeds have all the benefits of a regular pumpkin seed and then some.
It may be difficult to find Styrian seeds, they are far less common than other varieties of pumpkin seeds. Regular pumpkin seeds are still nutritious though and if you’re getting the extra Styrian benefits from taking a Styrian oil, you’ll do just fine.
When deciding on which product to go for, it’s important to go with the most natural product for both the seeds and the oil. Go for organic whenever you can and always choose raw seeds and carefully cold-pressed oil made from raw seeds.
Our Styrian Pumpkin Oil is pressed from organic, non-GMO Styrian pumpkin seeds. It will bring all the internal health benefits associated with pumpkin seed oil and can also be used topically for healthier skin and hair.