Pumpkin Seeds for Hormones

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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Pumpkin seeds are not just a delicious snack, they are also a nutritional powerhouse that can have a significant impact on hormone regulation.

Packed with vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, these tiny seeds offer a natural and effective way to support hormone balance in the body.

From relieving symptoms of menopause to promoting fertility and managing PMS, pumpkin seeds have been used for centuries to address hormonal issues.

They are rich in zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which play a crucial role in hormone production and function.

Additionally, the high antioxidant content of pumpkin seeds helps reduce inflammation, support immune function, and protect against oxidative stress, all of which can contribute to hormonal imbalances.

Incorporating pumpkin seeds into your diet is easy. Enjoy them roasted as a snack, sprinkle them on salads or oatmeal, or blend them into smoothies for an added nutritional boost.

With their hormone-regulating properties and numerous health benefits, pumpkin seeds are a simple and delicious way to take control of your hormone health.

The Role of Hormones in the Body

Hormones are involuntary natural chemicals produced by specific glands in our bodies to send messages about growth and development, metabolism (how our body obtains energy from food consumed), reproduction, sexuality, sleep cycles, as well as overall body regulation for homeostasis (balance).

They work by binding to specific receptors on cells and initiating an event chain which eventually changes cell activity - they're released by glands called endocrine glands such as pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas or ovary glands.

Hormones can act in two different ways. Either they can directly impact the cell that released them or they can travel throughout the body via blood circulation to reach every cell and reach all other parts of your body through your circulatory system.

Hormones that travel via circulation are known as endocrine hormones while those which bind directly with cells are referred to as paracrine or autocrine hormones.

Hormones travel through the bloodstream to their target cells, bypassing most other cells along their journey.

Once attached to receptors on cells, hormones initiate biochemical reactions that change existing proteins or cause new ones to be produced within them - this process is known as signal transduction.

As soon as the body experiences stress, hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine are released, providing an infusion of energy.

They increase glucose availability in liver and skeletal muscles by stimulating glycogen breakdown; speed heart rate and breathing; expand bronchioles to increase oxygen flow - these actions make up what is known as "fight or flight", providing essential fuel to vital organs while restricting non-essential tissues with glucose supplies.

Hormones work slowly but steadily to regulate many body processes, from puberty and environmental influences, aging and medications to out of balance endocrine systems causing health issues like diabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Estrogen

Estrogen and progesterone hormones produced in female ovaries or testicles and released by pineal glands respectively in males are responsible for regulating menstruation, maintaining pregnancy, and shaping secondary sexual characteristics.

Testosterone

Testosterone produced in testicles has several important regulatory functions: bone density regulation, muscle mass growth regulation and spermatogenesis regulation are just a few examples; finally melatonin released by pineal gland regulates sleep/wake cycle according to light/dark contrasts.

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Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an abundant source of proteins, minerals, fatty acids and phytosterols - essential components in many food products such as roasted seeds and flour, or raw snacks - not to mention their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Pumpkin fruit seeds (Cucurbita pepo L) contain many phenolic compounds with bioactive properties that include antihelmintic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, antidepressant, and peroxidation-reducing activities.

Furthermore, pumpkin seeds provide excellent sources of dietary fiber and protein while serving as raw material for producing various oils as well as being used as nutritious additions in food products.

Pumpkins provide various health advantages, including antidiabetic, antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Pumpkin seed oil, extracted from its seeds, can be purchased in various forms at stores.

Cold pressing ensures beneficial nutrients remain unharmed during extraction; and sprays, salad dressings or capsules containing pumpkin seed oil are all readily available options.

Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, an essential mineral for controlling and lowering blood pressure.

According to studies, eating foods rich in magnesium may also help prevent heart disease while raising levels of nitric oxide which could lower risks such as blood clots or stroke.

Researchers have confirmed pumpkin's additional benefits as being beneficial in improving spermatogenesis, wound healing, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and ulcerant properties as well as treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Nutritional Content

Pumpkin has long been revered as an essential food source, packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients and having opened new avenues of investigation for scientists in recent years.

Pumpkin fruit contains many primary and secondary metabolites that provide numerous vital nutritional components, including:

  • proteins
  • carbohydrates
  • monounsaturated fatty acids
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • carotenoids
  • tocopherols
  • tryptophan
  • delta-7-sterols 
  • phytochemicals 
  • lutein
  • zeaxanthin
  • vitamin E
  • ascorbic acid
  • phytosterols
  • selenium
  • linoleic acid

Pumpkin and Homones

Let's take a look at some available studies that investigate the effects of pumpkin seed constituents and hormones. Please be aware that the last two studies are based on the rat and mouse model. However, these two rodents share similar physiology to humans.

PCOS 

This study assessed the effect of seed cycling combined with a portion control diet on women living with PCOS between 15-40 years. 90 such women from the Department of Gynecology's Tertiary Care unit were selected.

PCOS involves high levels of testosterone (T), a decrease in estrogen secretion (E2), increased SHBG sex hormone-binding globulin production and FSH production.

Seed cycling is a timeless solution to maintaining hormone balance in females of reproductive age.

These seeds (flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame) offer antioxidants, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, proteins carbohydrates fiber zinc potassium phosphorus magnesium as well as trace minerals such as calcium sodium manganese iron zinc copper that promote normal hormone levels such as progesterone in females.

The results of the study suggest that by applying seed cycling we can address PCOS among women of reproductive age. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seed oil may provide effective treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

In this 2006 study testosterone showed significant increases in prostate size ratio, but these effects could be diminished when fed pumpkin seed oil instead.

Pumpkin seed oil appears to have the ability to prevent testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate and may therefore prove helpful in managing benign prostatic hyperplasia. 

Testosterone

A 2022 paper looked at the high nutritional content of zinc in pumpkins to see its effect on testosterone levels.

There were significant differences in testosterone levels of mice between those in the control group and those given extracts of meat, skin, and seeds (p-value 0.05), with those given pumpkin seed extract displaying higher testosterone concentrations than their counterparts in either group. 

Conclusion

Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are a nutrient-rich superfood.  

Pumpkin seeds provide men with an excellent source of zinc. According to one study, they were even shown to help treat symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia - when your prostate gland enlarges and leads to urinary issues.

Research also shows that they can help treat PCOS in women and improve testosterone levels. 

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