One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 9.35 grams of protein! That’s over two grams more than the same quantity of ground beef. According to USDA 1 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds has:
- 285 calories
- 87 grams protein
- 42 g fat
- 8 g dietary fiber
Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.
Vegetarians and vegans may have to work harder to have enough iron and vitamin B12 in their diet, but having enough protein shouldn’t be an ongoing issue. You can easily get enough protein and essential amino acids on a plant-based diet, and you will also experience many additional health benefits too!
What are proteins?
A protein is one of the main and crucial building blocks of our bodies. They help with the growth of muscles, bones, skin, hair and many other tissues. If we don’t count water, then 75% of our bodies by weight are made up of protein.
There are thousands of different types of proteins in our bodies. But they are all made up of the same 22 amino acids (some sources will say it is 20 amino acids).
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they link together in different ways. Depending on how the amino acids are linked, a different protein will be formed.
Even though plant-based protein is different from animal-based, it’s still very important to have enough on a daily basis. There are 22 different amino acids that can form a protein, and nine of them the body can’t produce on its own. These are called essential amino acids — we need to eat them because we can’t make them ourselves. They are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
“Nonessential” means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we do not get it from the food we eat.
More health benefits from pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are very rich in iron. They are one of the best sources in such a small amount found throughout the plant-based diet. Raw, organic pumpkin seed protein powder is now available, which would be an even denser way to get your fill of iron from this healthy seed, providing 40 percent, almost identical to hemp protein powder.
Pumpkin seeds are high in fat, but it’s the fat your body wants and loves! They’re an especially good source of omega 3 fatty acids and a rich source of mono-unsaturated fats that protect your heart, prevent inflammation, and help manage your weight.
Magnesium is a very important mineral for your health. It’s also known as the ‘forgotten mineral’ because many people suffer health issues from magnesium deficiency without knowing it — headaches, low blood sugar, constipation, insomnia, lack of energy, and a foul mood, just to name a handful. Pumpkin seeds are one of the richest source of magnesium in such a small serving, while greens, grains, beans, legumes, cashews, almonds, and cacao are other especially dense sources.
Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed extracts, and pumpkin seed oil have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits. The lignans in pumpkin seeds (including pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol) have also been shown to have antimicrobial—and especially anti-viral— properties. Impact of pumpkin seed proteins and pumpkin seed phytonutrients like lignans on the activity of a messaging molecule called interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) is likely to be involved in the antimicrobial benefits associated with this food.
Pumpkins are native to the Americas, and indigenous species are found across North America, South America, and Central America. The word “pepita” is consistent with this heritage, since it comes from Mexico, where the Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash.”
Pumpkin seeds were used by many Native American tribes, who valued them not only for their dietary, but also for their medicinal properties. In South America, the popularity of pumpkin seeds has been traced at least as far back as the Aztec cultures of 1300-1500 AD. The popularity of pumpkin seeds spread to the rest of the globe through trade and exploration over many centuries. In parts of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean (especially Greece), pumpkin seeds became a standard part of everyday cuisine, and culinary and medical traditions in India and other parts of Asia also incorporated this food into a place of importance.
Today, China produces more pumpkins and pumpkin seeds than any other country. India, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, and the U.S. are also major producers of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds. In the U.S., Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York. However, pumpkins are now grown commercially in virtually all U.S. states, and over 100,000 acres of U.S. farmland are planted with pumpkins.