The shells of pumpkin seeds are safe to eat and can even be more nutrient-rich than the seeds alone, commonly known as pepitas.
Pepitas are generally found in whole pumpkins and are popular as a nutritious snack.
While you’ll often find these seeds sold without their hard, outer shell, you might wonder if consuming the entire seed, shell, and all is okay.
This article delves into the safety of eating pumpkin seed shells, along with the potential benefits and drawbacks.
Are pumpkin seed shells safe?
Pumpkin seeds are small and green, encased in a yellowish-white shell.
When you cut open a whole pumpkin, these seeds are nestled within the orange, fibrous interior. Many folks scoop out the seeds, shell included, and roast them as a tasty snack.
However, the seeds you usually find in stores are often shelled, making them look different in color, size, and shape than homemade ones.
But don’t worry. The shells of pumpkin seeds are generally safe to eat for most people. They not only add a unique crunch but also pack in extra nutrients.
Summary: Whole pumpkin seeds with shells are safe to eat and rarely sold in stores.
Nutrition and benefits of shelled vs. whole pumpkin seeds
Whole pumpkin seeds contain over double the fiber compared to their shelled counterparts.
A single ounce (around 28 grams) of whole pumpkin seeds delivers about 5 grams of fiber, while the same serving of shelled seeds gives you just 2 grams.
Fiber is a fundamental gut-friendly element; it helps with digestion by nourishing the good bacteria in your gut. Plus, it might lower your risk of heart issues by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.
So, whole pumpkin seeds give you that extra fiber advantage.
These seeds don’t stop at fiber; they’re also packed with other essential nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and copper. And let’s not forget their high iron content, which is crucial for maintaining healthy blood and transporting oxygen.
Summary: Whole pumpkin seeds are higher in fiber than shelled ones, which can improve digestion and heart health.
Risks of eating pumpkin seed shells
While pumpkin seeds are generally considered safe and nutritious for most people, there are some conditions and situations where caution is warranted.
For individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, consuming high-fiber foods like pumpkin seeds could potentially worsen symptoms. The fiber in the seeds can exacerbate intestinal inflammation, leading to a range of digestive symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhea, pain, and bloating.
Additionally, because pumpkin seeds are small and tasty, consuming them in large quantities can be easy without realizing it. Overeating pumpkin seeds could lead to excess calorie and fat intake, which is something to be mindful of whether or not you have a digestive issue.
To facilitate digestion and make the most of the fiber content in the seeds, drinking water while eating them is a good idea. Water helps to move fiber through the digestive system, reducing the likelihood of constipation or other digestive complications.
So, while pumpkin seeds are a nutritious option with numerous health benefits, it’s important to consume them mindfully, particularly if you have existing health conditions or concerns. Always consult with a healthcare provider if you have specific dietary restrictions or health conditions.
Summary: Since whole pumpkin seeds are high in fiber, it’s important to consume them with plenty of fluids. Those with digestive issues should limit or avoid them.
How to prepare whole pumpkin seeds
Getting pumpkin seeds ready for snacking is a breeze if you’ve got a pumpkin.
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First, cut off the pumpkin’s top and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh. Next, put the seeds in a strainer and wash them under cold tap water, taking care to peel off any remaining pumpkin flesh. Finish up by drying them off with some paper towels.
You can enjoy pumpkin seeds just as they are, but roasting them really enhances their flavor.
Mix them with either olive oil or melted butter for a tasty roasted version, and season with salt, pepper, and any of your favorite spices. Lay them flat on a baking tray and bake at 300°F (150°C) for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until they turn brown and have a nice crunch.
Summary: Whole pumpkin seeds can be consumed either raw or roasted as a delightful and crunchy snack.
Eating the shells of pumpkin seeds is perfectly safe and gives you more fiber than the green, shelled ones.
However, if you have digestive issues, it might be best to steer clear of whole seeds. Their high fiber content can aggravate symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea.
To savor whole pumpkin seeds, just remove them from a whole pumpkin and roast them in the oven for a delicious treat.