Pumpkin seeds (pepita) are edible kernels of fruit pumpkin. The seeds, in fact, are concentrated sources of many health-benefiting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential amino acids such as tryptophan, and glutamate.
Crunchy, delicious pumpkin seeds are high in calories, about 559 calories per 100 g. In addition, they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health-promoting antioxidants. Their high calorific value mainly comes from protein and fats. Nonetheless, the kernels are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid (18:1) that help lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Research studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet which is liberal in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and stroke risk by favoring healthy blood lipid profiles.
Pumpkin seeds carry good-quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g or 54% of the recommended daily allowance of protein. In addition, the seeds are an excellent source of amino acids tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial neuro-chemical often labeled as nature’s sleeping pill. Further, tryptophan is the precursor of the B-complex vitamin, niacin (60 mg of tryptophan = 1 mg of niacin).