From the lattes to baked goods, pumpkin (and pumpkin spice flavoring) is in everything once fall comes. The fleshy gourd is the star of the season, but one of its most healthy components, pumpkin seeds, is often tossed. However, pumpkin seed oil is one of the healthiest oils you can use—here's why.
"[Pumpkin seed oil] is the oil that comes out of pressed pumpkin seeds. Think of it like almond oil or flaxseed oil, for example," says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Champagne Nutrition in Seattle.
Here's everything you need to know about pumpkin seed oil and what the research says about how it can impact your health. Plus, read up on the The 100 Healthiest Foods on the Planet.
It's a great source of vitamin E and healthy fats.
Those healthy fats are a great addition to your diet, especially if you aren't getting them from other sources. "Pumpkin seed oil is full of healthy, unsaturated fat, which we know helps to promote heart health," says Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, a Chicago-based registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of the Once Upon a Pumpkin blog.
It could help your hair grow.
In terms of specific health benefits, pumpkin seed oil has been linked to hair growth, according to a small study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
It's been used in experimental treatments for prostate issues in men.
"Pumpkin seed oil has also shown promising results as an alternative therapy for benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH)," says Michalczyk. "More research needs to be done on the topic, and this is another area where it's important to consult with your doctor before starting any self-treatment."
Still, the research that's been done so far is promising. In a small study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, a pumpkin seed extract supplement helped alleviate symptoms of BPH among study participants.
It could lower blood pressure.
Another small study published in the journal Climacteric found that pumpkin seed oil helped lower diastolic blood pressure in postmenopausal women.
However, consult your doctor if you are on medication for the condition. "People on hypertension medications should consult with their doctor when supplementing with pumpkin seed oil because the antioxidant properties of it may have a hypotensive (or blood pressure lowering) effect, altering the effects of hypertension medications," says Michalczyk.
How can you use pumpkin seed oil?
If you're looking to add some pumpkin seed oil to your diet, here are a few ways to do it.
"Pumpkin seed oil is best used as a finishing oil, drizzled onto a dish. It is also great as a salad dressing because of its rich nutty flavor," says Michalczyk. "You can make your own salad dressing with it and use it as a finishing oil on chicken or salmon to best reap its benefits."
However, you should skip baking with pumpkin seed oil. "It's not great for baking or using as a cooking oil because of its low smoke point, which means putting high heat on it will destroy some of the nutrition benefits," says Michalczyk.
What should you look for in pumpkin seed oil products?
Pay attention to the label when selecting a pumpkin seed oil. "I would just make sure you are getting pumpkin seed oil in its purest form when looking for the oil or capsules. (I think it's a personal preference whether you want to take it in oil or capsule form.)," says Michalczyk. "Sometimes, due to the expense of harvesting pumpkin seeds and producing the oil, manufacturers commonly add cheaper sunflower or rapeseed oil to the products, so this is something to look out for."
However you decide to use it, pumpkin seed oil can be a great way to add more nutrients to your diet.