How Pumpkin Seed Oil Benefits Your Skin, Hair, and Body
Turns out it packs more than just fun, festive fall flavors. Here's why pumpkin seed oil could be the missing part of your beauty routine.
Pumpkin seed oil basics
People associate pumpkin as a fall baking and cooking staple or festive decoration, with its seeds commonly touted as a healthy snack.
But pumpkin’s uses go far beyond those, with pumpkin seed oil even providing various health benefits.
Here’s all you need to know.
What is pumpkin seed oil?
Cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil comes from shelled pumpkin seeds and is commonly used for cooking.
You can find it at most grocers, or even at discount stores like Home Goods, according to Gabrielle Mancella, a registered dietitian in Orlando, Florida.
It’s also sold in pill or capsule form in some health stores, which is a more common way for people to consume it if they want the health benefits.
Is pumpkin seed oil good for you?
Unsurprisingly, pumpkin seeds, along with their oil, contain nutrients just like the vegetable is in its original form.
“Pumpkins contain a large amount of vitamin A due to their rich orange color, so this is essentially what they get the most kudos for but when it comes to their fat source, it contains arguably more nutrients per serving,” Mancella says.
Just one tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil is also packed with most of the electrolytes adults need, which include potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, making it a great mechanism for promoting hydration, Mancella says.
“You can add it to water or smoothies to ensure you are obtaining the most minerals from your diet, [while also helping ward off] bloating and water retention,” she says. “It also contains zinc which can aid our immune system to better prepare us for times of illness.”
Pumpkin seed oil also contains 3 grams of monounsaturated fat and 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat, both of which are heart-healthy fats, per tablespoon, says Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut.
Pumpkin seed oil uses
As with most other cooking oils, there are various ways you can incorporate pumpkin seed oil into your cooking routine to reap both its health benefits and appealing flavor.
“Pumpkin seed oil has a lower smoke point of 320 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that it makes a better finishing oil for salad dressings or even for adding to smoothies or to make a vinaigrette to spoon on top of roasted vegetables,” Gorin says.
Keep in mind that pumpkin seed oil goes rancid easily, so be sure to store it in a cool, dark place, or keep it refrigerated to extend its shelf life.
Pumpkin seed oil health benefits
Pumpkin seed oil has a variety of positive effects on health.
One such example is urinary health. One study in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine found that people who took between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of a pumpkin seed oil extract saw an improvement in their overactive bladder symptoms after 12 weeks, including urinating while asleep at night.
Similarly, some consider pumpkin seed oil an alternative treatment option or supplement for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which can cause pain and block urine flow.
One study in Nutrition Research and Practice looked at 47 people over 12 months with an enlarged prostate. They found that people who experienced this condition saw an improvement in their symptoms when taking pumpkin seed and palmetto oils, with no negative side effects.
Other research has also found that pumpkin seed oil, which is an unsaturated, or “good,” fat, can help to promote good heart health, as well as potentially aiding in lowering cholesterol, according to the journal Circulation.
“There’s also research to suggest that pumpkin seed oil may help increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels in women,” Gorin says. “In one study, women who had undergone menopause who received pumpkin seed oil daily for three months had higher HDL levels and lower diastolic blood pressure levels.”
Pumpkin seed oil also has some other potential benefits. Animal studies in the journal Nutrition and Cancer suggested it may aid in the prevention of breast cancer. Still, there is currently no research confirming this benefit in humans.
Is pumpkin seed oil good for your hair and skin?
If you’re on the hunt for hair growth solutions, pumpkin seed oil may be worth trying, as it’s been tied to this benefit in men.
In one 2014 study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicinem, men who took four 100-milligram supplements containing pumpkin seed oil and other ingredients daily for a period of 24 weeks experienced 40 percent more hair growth than the men in the placebo group, with no adverse effects while consuming it. (The study was funded by the supplement manufacturer, so additional research is needed to confirm the findings.)
When it comes to other possible skin benefits, pumpkin seed oil may help acne.
“Pumpkin seed oil also has antimicrobial activity and has been touted as a beneficial spot treatment for acne,” says Patricia Farris, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Metairie, Louisiana.
While it’s generally believed to be safe to apply oils directly to the skin, Dr. Farris notes that it’s key to be mindful of potential contact allergies and seek them out in products formulated with other ingredients to stay on the safe side.
The bottom line
Similar to other oils, pumpkin seed oil is a versatile cooking option that can provide various health and beauty benefits, in addition to delicious flavor.
Consider picking it up the next time you’re perusing the cooking oil selection or browsing a health foods store.
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut
- Gabrielle Mancella, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian in Orlando, Florida
- Patricia Farris, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Metairie, Louisiana
- Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine: "Pumpkin seed oil extracted from cucurbita maxima improves urinary disorder in human overactive bladder"
- Nutrition Research and Practice: "Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia"
- Circulation: "Consumption of plant seeds and cardiovascular health: epidemiological and clinical trial evidence"
- Nutrition and Cancer: "Effects of phytoestrogen extracts isolated from pumpkin seeds on estradiol production and ER/PR expression in breast cancer and trophoblast tumor cells"
- Climacteric: "Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial"