As a simple snack or crunchy topping, seeds are known for being high in healthy fats and full of micronutrients. But did you know they might also help with arthritis pain? Recently, researchers found pumpkin seeds could have powerful anti-inflammatory effects in arthritis patients. Here’s what we know so far.
Pumpkin seeds are very nutrient dense. According to a 2012 study, these seeds are around 33% protein, 4% fiber, and 22% ash. They are also very low in sugar, with less than 0.2% per 100g . Fatty acids make up around 30% of their composition, and given their well-known health benefits, it’s one of the main reasons for adding pumpkin seeds to your diet. Pumpkin seeds have 3 kinds of fatty acids: oleic, linoleic and palmitic acid. On top of these, they also have a fair amount of tocopherol, also known as vitamin E .
Even if they weren’t at the center of research for a long time, some research groups are finding exciting results when testing pumpkin seeds.
While many tend to discard them or eat them occasionally, others use pumpkin seeds to treat different ailments. These small seeds have been used to fight stomach ulcers, lower blood sugar, slow down aging and lower inflammation. However, most of these uses have not been well researched, and their real effectiveness is being studied.
In spite of this, new studies found some of them could effectively improve quality of life among people with arthritis and patients suffering from chronic inflammation.
Recent studies are exploring the effectiveness of functional foods like pumpkin. ‘Functional foods’ are called that because they serve a purpose beyond providing energy.
Because of their high fatty acid and antioxidant content, pumpkin seeds have recently been at the forefront of research. Studies published in 2014, 2019, and 2020 showed that components found in pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil has a positive effect in our health.
While the specific physiological pathways are still being studied, researchers believe the effectiveness of pumpkin seeds lie on their micronutrients, including fatty acids, phenolic acids and other antioxidant compounds.
Antioxidants help your body heal itself while fatty acids have well-known anti-inflammatory properties that can positively affect arthritis patients. As such, the unsaturated fatty acids in pumpkin seeds influence inflammatory pathways. While current studies have only been carried out in animals, the results seem promising. Rats with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis and other autoimmune diseases showed improvement when pumpkin seed oil was topically applied .
On the other hand, according to a 2020 study pumpkin seed oil could protect the epidermis when applied to skin wounds.
While research is still ongoing, it might be a good idea to add pumpkin seeds to an inflammation-fighting regime. Plus, they’re delicious as a soup or salad topping!