Many men have problems with their prostate as they age. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that produces semen.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are the edible seeds of a pumpkin. Whether you enjoy them raw or in the form of pumpkin seed oil, they are packed with nutrition and may support prostate health. Because of this, pumpkin seeds are a popular folk remedy for men’s health issues.
According to a 2014 study, both pumpkin seed oil and a combination of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil may improve benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms. Researchers concluded that pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil are safe and effective alternative treatments for BPH.
An earlier study found that pumpkin seed oil could block certain types of prostate growth. The study looked at rats induced with testosterone and the alpha-blocker drug Prazosin. Testosterone is thought to play a role in the development of BPH, although it’s not completely clear why.
One theory is that dihydrotestosterone, a powerful metabolite of testosterone, builds up in the prostate and causes it to grow. The phytochemicals in pumpkin seeds may reduce the effects of dihydrotestosterone on the prostate. They may also block the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
Zinc is critical to normal prostate function. In fact, a normal prostate has the highest levels of zinc in the body. Results of a 2011 study showed that malignant prostate tissue and prostate tissue from men with BPH had significantly less zinc than normal prostate tissue. The study also found an increase in urinary zinc excretion.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc. One cup provides almost half the recommended daily allowance (RDA). More studies are needed to link the zinc in pumpkin seeds to prostate health. But it’s thought that eating a handful of seeds several times a week may help keep your zinc levels optimal.