Can Pumpkin Seeds Help You Lose Weight?

Roasting pumpkin seeds is a Halloween tradition in many American households, but you're doing yourself a disservice if you only eat these seeds once a year. Rich in essential fatty acids and the amino acid tryptophan, pumpkin seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch. They don't have any special weight-loss properties, but eating them in moderation can help you get the nutrition you need when reducing your calorie intake and keep you feeling satisfied.

A close-up of roasted pumpkin seeds. (Image: storeg/iStock/Getty Images)

The Truth About Weight Loss

You may have heard that by eating certain foods, you'll lose more weight. This simply isn't true. No food has the power to spur significant weight loss. To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you expend each day. Then your body will have to tap into your fat stores for energy, thus burning fat. Maintaining this deficit over time, by eating less and being more active, will induce noticeable weight loss.

Potential of Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds are high in fat and, as a result, higher in calories per serving than many other foods. But seeds are also very nutrient-dense, containing ample fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, which makes them an important part of a reduced-calorie diet. When you reduce your calories, you risk taking in fewer than adequate nutrients, so including a small amount of pumpkin seeds in your diet each day can help you avoid deficiencies. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of fiber, with over 5 grams per ounce. Fiber is an important part of a weight-loss diet because it helps fill the belly and prolongs fullness, potentially leading to reduced hunger and lower calorie intake.

Moderation Is Key

A tenet of healthy eating, especially when you're trying to lose weight, is "everything in moderation." This applies to nuts and seeds because although they are nutrient-dense, they are high in calories. One ounce of pumpkin seeds, which is a standard serving size, supplies 126 calories. This is still lower than many other less healthy snacks, such as potato chips, which have 154 calories per ounce. But, if you overeat pumpkin seeds, you can end up adding many more calories to your diet than you'd planned and gain, rather than lose, weight. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says women seeking weight loss should stick to 1 ounce of nuts and seeds per day, and men who need to shed pounds should have no more than 2 ounces per day.

Pumpkin Seed Preparation Ideas

Of course, you can stick to the tradition and roast pumpkin seeds with a dash of olive oil and salt, or you can get a little more creative. The Food Network suggests tossing pumpkin seeds with the Indian spice garam masala before roasting and mixing in some black currants after they cool; or toss the seeds with some smoked paprika and slivered almonds. Eat the seeds on their own or use them as a topping for nonfat Greek yogurt or a fresh salad.

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