All About Pepitas - From History To Health

A Pepita is a Pumpkin seed of certain varieties of pumpkin and certain types of squash. Traditionally known as pepitas, a Spanish word meaning "little seed of squash". Pepitas are a typical food in Mexican cuisine and have grown to become a popular nutrient-dense snack and superfood around the world.

Pepitas are one of the earliest food crops in the Americas and are part of the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as Cucurbits or the gourd family. The seeds have been discovered in ancient storage containers in Mexico dating back as far as 7000 BC and were a popular food item among many native American tribes. Some Mexican tribes believe Pepitas give exceptional energy and endurance and the Cocopa tribe in Arizona considers pepitas protection from the cold. Pepitas are a clan symbol in some Native American cultures like the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo tribes. The Pueblo tribe also have a pumpkin flower dance among their tribal dance traditions. (1)

Cultivated all year round and grown worldwide (we source ours from Austria). Pepitas are nutrient-dense, they are used in a variety of ways both as food and medicinally. They are a fantastic source of protein, dietary fibre, plant-based omega 3, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Contain disease-fighting antioxidants and also contain a full spectrum of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds). They are good for the health of your heart, promote optimal digestive health, can help to stabilize blood sugar levels, and support the proper functioning of your liver and immune system.

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), pepitas have a very low glycaemic load, are also very low in cholesterol and sodium. They have a macronutrient ratio of 71% fat, 16% protein, and 13% carbohydrate. They are a good source of Protein, Vitamin K, Iron and Copper, and an excellent source of Manganese, Magnesium, and Phosphorus.

A general serving (and the values below) of pepita is around 28g - just one small handful. (2) (3)

Calories: 151 kcal

Protein: 6.9 grams

Fat: 12.8 grams

  • Saturated Fat 2.4g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 4.0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 5.9g
  • Omega-3 50.7mg
  • Omega-6 5797mg

Carbs: 5.0 grams

Manganese: 1.0mg (48% of the RDI)

Copper: 0.4mg (22%)

Magnesium: 44.6mg (11%)

Phosphorus: 97.8mg (10%)

Zinc: 0.9mg (6%)

Iron: 0.8mg (5%)

Potassium: 125mg (4%)

Vitamin B6: 0.2mg (8%)

Folate (B9): 27.7mcg (7%)

Vitamin B1: 0.1mg (6%)

Natural cleansers

Pepitas were once used in traditional medicine by the indigenous people of North America to expel tapeworms and other intestinal parasites. Still, to this day Pepitas are used in the treatment of worms and parasites (especially tapeworm). It seems this is due to an amino acid in the seeds called Cucurbitacin which paralyzes the worms making them loose grip of your insides. Then combined with foods containing natural laxatives, the worms are expelled from your body more easily. (4) (5) (6)

Benefits of Zinc

Pepitas are well known as a good source of Zinc. Zinc (as well as Magnesium) is involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions within the body.

Zinc is a crucial mineral in both men's and women's sexual health and fertility. It supports hormonal balance and plays a significant role in acne and other skin conditions.

For men correctly, the Zinc in pepitas is shown to be beneficial in treating an enlarged prostate as well as an overactive bladder. Zinc helps to protect sperm from toxicity and disease, can increase sperm count and combined with the presence of the antioxidants is shown to improve fertility and reproductive function. (7) (8)

For women, Zinc (as well as Magnesium and Omega 3) is essential for the development of the baby during pregnancy. Also having adequate levels of Zinc for Mumma can help protect against post-natal depression, connective tissue trauma, cracked nipples, and is vital for breast milk production. Zinc can also help women experiencing symptoms of menopause. (8)

Zinc plays a significant and varied role in a healthy immune system. It is crucial for the growth, development, and functioning of immune cells. Zinc helps keep the immune system healthy, supports wound healing, and protects against virus and infection. (9)

Improve your sleep

Pepitas are an excellent source of several nutrients that promote good sleep. Zinc is a co-factor in converting Tryptophan in pepitas into serotonin. Zinc converts to Melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. (8) (10). Tryptophan can enhance the quality of one's sleep and is known for improving the symptoms of insomnia. Which including sleep efficiency, length of sleep and the amount of time it takes to fall asleep at night. Tryptophan and Magnesium also have a powerful effect on your mood which also affects the quality of your sleep. (11) (12).

By Linda Ross ICNT
Integrative Nutritionist
Body, Mind and Eating Coach
Wholefood Chef 

  1. http://www.native-languages.org/legends-pumpkin.htm
  2. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3066/2
  3. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45079998?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=PEPITAS+HULLED%2C+UPC%3A+727915241044&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
  4. https://www.healingplantfoods.com/pumpkin-seeds-for-parasites/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22910218
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037735/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19285597
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds#section9
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
  10. https://wellnourished.com.au/pumpkin-seeds-superfood/
  11. https://draxe.com/nutrition/seeds/pumpkin-seeds/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715722

 

MORE ABOUT LINDA:

Linda is currently teaching and consulting Globally. Specializing in identifying the underlying factors of chronic stress and related conditions, using clinical and holistic techniques. Blending ancient wisdom that is backed up by the modern science of nutrition to nourish the body and support people of all ages in understanding and transforming their health and wellbeing.

Links to connect with Linda:
www.nourishingways.co.nz
Instagram: @nourishing_ways

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