Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a hallmark of trail mix and of many ‘healthy cereals.’ But a lot of people don’t know just how tasty they can be on their own.
These charming, flat little seeds are native to the Americas. They were a very important food to many Native American tribes – and for so many good reasons!
With a satisfying crunch and a whole lot of healthy fats and protein to keep you full, they’re a fantastic addition to any diabetic diet and can actually be an integral part of a clean eating plan to help with weight loss.
The list of pumpkin seeds’ mind-blowing benefits is long, but we’ll touch on the major benefits of pumpkin seeds for diabetes below.
What are Pumpkin Seeds?
As their name suggests, pumpkin seeds are scooped out from the insides of pumpkins.
You can do this on your own at home by simply scooping out the seeds, washing them thoroughly, then drying them on some paper towel. It’s a rather time-consuming process, but the delicious outcome is totally worth it.
Or of course, you can buy the pumpkin seeds at the store, either flavored or unflavored (recommended).
And for a small seed, they certainly pack a punch of benefits…
Pumpkin Seeds Nutrition Facts
Pumpkin seeds are moderate in calories – one quarter of a cup contains 160 calories. But they’re very nutrient-dense, meaning that you don’t have to eat much to get a ton of benefits and stay satiated (full and satisfied) for hours.
That same quarter cup also contains 9 grams of protein, 14 grams of healthy fat, and 3 grams of fiber. Best of all, they are a low carb food that contains just 3 grams of carbohydrates per quarter cup. And if you minus the fiber, that’s just 1 gram net carbs.
It terms of vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds contain (per ¼ cup):
- 74% Recommended Daily Average (RDA) manganese
- 57% RDA phosphorus
- 48% RDA magnesium and copper
- 23% RDA zinc
- 16% RDA iron
- 4% RDA vitamin A and folate
Pumpkin Seeds Compared To Other Seeds
Pumpkin seeds and other seeds are all similar in that they contain high levels of fiber, healthy fats, and protein. But how do they stack up, nutritionally, next to each other?
As you can see, most seeds have a similar makeup. They are all low in carbs, relatively high in fiber, and they contain protein and fat to help improve your feeling of fullness. That makes them the perfect addition to a healthy diet.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw as a snack, pan roasted and thrown over salads and stir fries for a crunchy kick, or crushed and sprinkled over cereals, parfaits, or to accompany fruit. They can also be added to your low carb breads, muffins and bakes.
Myths and Truths about Pumpkin Seeds
Since we hear so much in the media about nut allergies, many people think that seed allergies aren’t something anyone needs to worry about.
However, it’s important to be aware that some people are allergic to seeds, including pumpkin seeds.
If that’s you, you should obviously avoid consuming pumpkin seeds. Be sure to see a doctor or dietitian if you suspect you may be allergic or sensitive to any nuts or seeds.
Research about Pumpkin Seeds and Diabetes
Research suggests that eating pumpkin seeds may help prevent both the development of diabetes and its complications.
Pumpkin seeds contain many beneficial compounds that may assist in maintaining blood sugar levels.
Pumpkin and its seeds contain phytochemicals that may prevent both high blood pressure, blood sugar spikes, and provide heart-protective properties.
Consuming pumpkin seeds can ameliorate pesky menopause symptoms (hot flashes, headaches, joint pain) and may help improve your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Incredibly, they may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
And finally, pumpkin seeds also have a protective effect on the liver, likely because of their healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Research suggests this may even preventliver-related diabetic complications.
So are Pumpkin Seeds Good for Diabetics?
- Top your low carb cereal or yogurt with the raw seeds.
- Pair them with low carb fruit for a snack.
- Stack them onto a yogurt and berry parfait.
- Or just munch on them raw – keep a small pack handy in your bag for an emergency snack.
Pumpkin seeds are a nutrient-dense food source – meaning they are full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds, so munch up and enjoy!