When it comes to cooking oils, olive oil is perhaps the most widely beloved in the U.S. for its heart-healthy benefits, accessibility, and versatility. But it’s certainly not the only one that’s good for cardiovascular health. Pumpkin seed oil is an oft-overlooked, underutilized oil that can also benefit cardiovascular health.
Pumpkin seed oil is made from cold-pressed pumpkin seeds and originated from Mexico, where pumpkins grow in abundance. Traditionally known as “the green gold,” it’s been used in cooking since the 18th century. Since it is a specialty oil, pumpkin seed oil does tend to cost more than some other types of oil. But the pumpkin seed oil benefits make it a splurge that can be well worth it. Below is a run-down of its nutritional profile for a one tablespoon serving:
Calories: 130 kcals
Protein: 0 grams
Total fats: 14 grams
Unsaturated fats: 1.5 grams
Monosaturated fats: 6 grams
Polyunsaturated fats: 7.5 grams
The shortlist may look underwhelming, but the benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. Monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are both important nutrients everyone needs that benefit the body in a variety of ways. Below, registered dietitian Andrea Mathis, RD, explains just why the fats in pumpkin seed oil are so healthy and also gives tips on how to use pumpkin seed oil in your cooking.
5 pumpkin seed oil benefits, according to a registered dietitian
1. It’s good for your heart
Mathis explains that pumpkin seed oil benefits the heart the same way olive oil does. Both contain the same type of healthy fats linked to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease. “If you like cooking with olive oil for its heart health benefits, you can switch it up with pumpkin oil from time to time and still get these same benefits,” she says.
2. Consuming pumpkin seed oil could boost your mood
“I’ve been reading a lot about the brain benefits of pumpkin seed oil, specifically how it is linked to helping with anxiety and depression,” Mathis says. One study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that children experiencing depression who consumed pumpkin seeds found it helped their mood. More scientific research needs to be done in this area to specifically connect pumpkin seed oil with these mood-boosting benefits (and to know if they’re effective on adults, too), but Mathis says the reason for the connection likely is because of the healthy fats, which are found in both the seeds in their whole form and the pumpkin seed oil.
3. It’s anti-inflammatory
Another perk of consuming pumpkin seed oil, Mathis says, is that it can help protect against chronic inflammation. Left untreated, inflammation can lead to many debilitating health problems, including cancer or cognitive decline. “Pumpkin seed oil contains the antioxidants carotenoids and vitamin E, and antioxidants play a role in lowering inflammation,” she says. However, it should be noted that there are only trace…