Pumpkin seeds are one of the most popular foods in America.
They are used as a snack or they can be eaten whole, but what do you really need them for? What does it mean if you eat pumpkin seeds? Are there any health benefits associated with eating pumpkin seeds?
What Is Pumpkin Seed Oil And Why Do People Eat It?
Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) is a type of vegetable oil made from the seeds of the common pumpkin plant. PSO is derived from the seeds of the pumpkin plant and is not extracted from the flesh of the pumpkin itself. PGO is sold under several brand names including “Purex” and “Dixie Organics.”
The main ingredient in PSO is a substance called palmitoleic acid. Palmitoleic acid occurs naturally in many plants, such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnut kernels and others. When these oils are heated, the fatty acids undergo a chemical reaction which produces a variety of different products. One of those products is palmitoleic acid.
Palmitoleic acid is considered beneficial because it helps to lower bad cholesterol levels and improve blood flow to your heart. It may also reduce inflammation in your body and promote healthy hair growth.
What Are The Active Ingredients In PSO?
The main ingredient in PSO is palmitoleic acid, a substance that has been shown to have a number of potentially beneficial effects on your body.
Research suggests that palmitoleic acid helps lower bad cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of blood clots. It may also play a role in enhancing memory and other aspects of brain function, as well as promoting hair growth.
Research suggests that the following benefits are associated with a high-PUFA diet:
1. Lowers bad cholesterol levels: Palmitoleic acid and other types of saturated fat found in pumpkin seeds can help lower total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
Lowering these types of cholesterol is an important factor in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
2. Regulates blood sugar levels: Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate proper function of insulin and glucose levels in the blood.
3. Reduces the risk of blood clots: Magnesium also helps regulate platelets in your blood, preventing them from clotting and reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
4. Fights inflammation: The high levels of magnesium in PSO also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which helps prevent painful swelling, reduces the size of any swollen areas and lowers pain levels.
5. Protects your brain: Magnesium helps increase the level of serotonin in your brain, which can help you relax and improve your mood.
It also helps your brain send messages down your nervous system, affecting everything from your muscle coordination to your sense of smell.
6. Promotes hair growth: By helping increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your scalp, magnesium helps promote hair growth.
7. Aids in the absorption of other nutrients: Magnesium also works with iron and zinc, making it easier for your body to absorb these essential minerals.
8. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes: Also, pumpkin seeds can decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes and help your body process this disease more effectively if you already suffer from it.
What Are The Side Effects Of PSO?
Side effects are not commonly reported with PSO. There are no known side effects listed in the medical literature.
Possible side effects include:
1. Low blood pressure: Some people experience a drop in blood pressure when they take magnesium supplements, even if they do not have low blood pressure.
If you have low blood pressure, discuss the use of PSO with your doctor.
2. Digestive upset: Magnesium supplements sometimes cause digestive upset such as stomach cramps and diarrhea.
3. Allergic reaction: As with any food product, there is always the risk of an allergic reaction.
If you experience swelling of the lips, tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, or start coughing up blood you should seek immediate medical attention.
If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before taking PSO.
NOTE: Magnesium supplements can cause a laxative effect if taken in large amounts.
How and Where to Buy?
You can buy pumpkin seeds whole or ready-shelled. Or, you can buy the oil, which is more concentrated. Most health food stores carry them in their PSO aisle.
Whole and shelled PSO’s tend to be quite affordable, costing around $10 a pound. Lighter oils such as the one pictured here tend to be more expensive, costing at least $15 for less than 16 fluid ounces (and that’s on sale).
For occasional use, whole seeds or already shelled seeds are probably your best bet. For regular use, oils may be a more cost-effective method of supplementation.
What to Look For
When looking for pumpkin seed oil, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind:
1. Make sure it is pure PSO, and not mixed with any other oils.
2. The more concentrated the oil is, the better.
3. Try to find an organic variety, as PSO’s are among the most heavily treated and sprayed crops.
4. Opt for the lighter oils if you’re looking to save money, as heavier oils can cost quite a bit.
5. If you’re looking for a very concentrated oil that is extremely effective, try to find fractionated coconut oil.
This oil has been heavily refined, stripping out all of the longer chain fatty acids and concentrating the PSO content (as well as eliminating most of its flavor).