From the cold pressing of pumpkin seeds a thick and dark oil is produced, the pumpkin seed oil. We have already seen the beauty properties of this precious vegetable oil that, when applied with massages on the scalp, can help counteract hair loss. Today, however, we are talking about the properties of pumpkin seed oil for food use. Yes, because this exceptional oil can also be used raw as a condiment. But let's see its nutritional characteristics and what it can do for our health.
Pumpkin seed oil in cooking, properties
Pumpkin seed oil is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic, linoleic and palmitic, with a beneficial action on the heart and immune system, carotenoids, vitamin E and phytosterols , which are substances capable of reducing circulating cholesterol in the blood (Montesano et al, Foods, 2018 - AbuMweis, Curr Atheroscler Rep, 2008). Thanks to these substances, pumpkin seed oil shows beneficial properties for health since it helps to combat hypertension and diabetes, not only that, it also has an antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial action (Bardaa et al, Lipids Health Dis, 2016). Among the phytosterols contained in this vegetable oil we find substances called sitosterols that make pumpkin seed oil an ally for relieving urinary tract disorders, including overactive bladder (Nishimura et al, J Tradit Complement Med, 2014). In addition to this, the intake of pumpkin seed oil is considered an extra long-term help to alleviate the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy including better urinary flow (Hon et al, Nutr Res Pract, 2009). Pumpkin seed oil also contains phytoestrogens. It has been observed that, precisely because of this characteristic, pumpkin seed oil can be considered an aid in conditions in which a drop in estrogen is detected, such as in post menopause. In fact, the intake of two grams per day for twelve weeks of pumpkin seed oil led, in women who had passed the menopause, a significant increase in HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol, and a reduction in diastolic, or minimum, blood pressure. Not only that, a reduction in some menopause symptoms such as hot flashes or headaches has also been recorded (Gossell Williams, Climateric, 2011). However, the protective action on the heart of pumpkin seed oil has been observed in any case, not only in postmenopausal women, since the intake of this oil leads to a reduction in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. And that's not all, this oil helps reduce the markers that indicate inflammation of the liver and blood vessels (Morrison et al, PLoS One, 2015).
Pumpkin seed oils, the different types
Choose an unrefined oil if possible. In fact, comparing the nutritional values ??of a refined and an unrefined pumpkin seed oil it emerged that, while the values ??of unsaturated fatty acids are almost the same, the other beneficial substances such as phytosterols and antioxidants vary. In particular, unrefined oil is more beneficial than refined oil when it comes to fighting arteriosclerosis, protecting the liver and reducing inflammation (Morrison et al, PLoS One, 2015). As for the type of seeds from which the oil is extracted, these can be roasted or not. The composition of the unsaturated fatty acids does not change in the two variants while some phytochemical compounds such as tocopherol and phytosterols change and are more present in the oil type with roasted seeds. Not only that, the oil obtained from roasted seeds is also more stable and oxidizes with more difficulty (Raczyk et al, Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment, 2017).
Pumpkin seed oil in the kitchen
You can use raw pumpkin seed oil to maximize its properties. For example, you can use it, together with olive oil, to dress the salad. The pumpkin soup seasoned with a drizzle of this precious oil is also excellent as a last step before serving. You can find the recipe in the Healthy Food section.