Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year! Some people never think of eating them, but the flesh and seeds can be really terrific! I especially want to highlight the benefits of the seeds.
Pumpkin seed basics:
Whole pumpkin seeds usually contain an olive green color kernel encased in a white shell. Some pumpkin varieties produce seeds that do not have the outer white shell. While the whole pumpkin seed kernel and shell is edible, you may prefer to eat just the kernel since the outer white shell is tougher to chew. Whole pumpkin seeds and the pumpkin seed kernels alone are readily available for purchase in many grocery stores, and the kernels or seeds without the outer shell may be referred to as “pepitas.”
These seeds are packed full of healthy nutrients!
Pumpkin seed kernels for ¼ cup (32 grams) provide around 10 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 2.5 milligrams zinc, 1.5 milligrams magnesium, and 3 milligrams iron. 1
Whole pumpkin seeds (shell and kernel) for ¼ cup (16 grams) provide about 3 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 1.6 milligrams zinc, 42 milligrams magnesium, and 0.5 milligrams iron.1
Ways to use pumpkin seeds in your diet:
- Sprinkle whole pumpkin seeds or kernels over salads, soups, pastas, and hot or cold cereals.
- Add pumpkin seed kernels to hummus dips and pesto sauces.
- Top muffins and cookies with pumpkin seed kernels.
- Use pumpkin seed kernels in trail mixes, granolas, or homemade energy bites.
- And my favorite… Save the whole pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin this fall and roast them to keep for snacks. This can be a memorable activity to do with older children. Recipes abound on the internet.
A word of caution: Avoid adding whole pumpkin seeds to a young child’s diet until they are developmentally ready to easily chew and swallow them as whole pumpkin seeds may pose a higher risk for choking.
Notes: 1 Nutritional values were obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. Accessed October 10, 2021. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/.