Pumpkin Seed Oil Is the Heart-Healthy Ingredient You Need This Fall—Here's Why
Carve out a spot in your kitchen for this RD-approved ingredient.
This time of year, we’re consuming pumpkin in every form—pie, bread, lattes, you name it. Turns out pumpkin seed oil offers some exciting health benefits and can add flavor to sweet and savory dishes all season long. “Pumpkin seed oil is a heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids,” says Bethany Doerfler, MS, RDN. To understand the full range of the health benefits that pumpkin seed oil offers, as well how to incorporate it into your daily lifestyle, here's everything you need to know.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil?
In addition to being a heart-healthy oil that is rich in fatty acids, pumpkin seed oil also contains high levels of phytosterols, a plant-based structure similar to the body’s cholesterol. These compounds can help to reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol in the body by “improving the health and movement of the blood vessels,” says Doerfler. While one previous study touted that pumpkin seed oil can delay or prevent hair loss, Doerfler says that “more research is needed to understand the role of this oil as a treatment in alopecia.”
How to Cook With Pumpkin Seed Oil
Like olive oil, pumpkin seed oil has a very low smoke point (about 320°F) so avoid using it to sauté or sear meat and vegetables. Instead, Doerfler likes drizzling this mild, nutty oil on top of cooked fish, roasted root vegetables, and in soups or smoothies. If a recipe calls for coconut or avocado oil, feel free to swap in pumpkin seed oil.
How to Store Pumpkin Seed Oil
When shopping for pumpkin seed oil, look for cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oil for maximum health benefits and purity. Pumpkin seed oil is usually sold in a can or dark glass jar, which helps to prolong its shelf life. Doerfler recommends storing pumpkin seed oil in a cool cabinet or in the refrigerator, as it spoils easily in warm temperatures.
Recommended Daily Serving of Pumpkin Seed Oil
While we could eat pumpkin pie all day long, doing so with pumpkin seed oil is not recommended (and let’s face it, pumpkin pie isn’t exactly heart-healthy either). Doerfler notes that a healthy daily serving of pumpkin seed oil is approximately two teaspoons, which contains 80 calories and nine grams of fat. “With all fats, we are more interested in the types of fats one is consuming (opt for plant-based over animal fats) than the specific amounts. A balance of nuts/seeds/plant based oils and avocado provide the most heart-healthy approach,” says Doerfler. She also encourages consumption of pumpkin seeds, which are rich in magnesium, potassium, and fiber.