Do Pumpkin Seeds Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Pumpkin seeds, commonly known as “pepitas,” are a delicious, nutty snack full of nutrients. What’s interesting, though, is that they may also improve sexual health.

In this article, we take a look at the benefits of adding pumpkin seeds to one’s diet and how they can improve sexual health, including potentially improving erectile dysfunction

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Are pumpkin seeds good for men with erectile dysfunction?

Pumpkin seeds may be beneficial for men with erectile dysfunction as the seeds have many properties that help with prostate function. They also reduce benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged without the presence of cancer and mostly occurs in men over 50. 

Pumpkin seeds also contain a considerable amount of zinc, which is important for testosterone creation and sperm cell viability. Pumpkin seeds don’t typically cause any adverse reactions in men with erectile dysfunction. 

How do pumpkin seeds help with erectile dysfunction?

To get and maintain an erection, the penis relies on controlled blood flow. First, there is the process of vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels and constriction of the smooth muscles in the penis), which keeps the penis flaccid. 

When the person is sexually stimulated, vasodilation (widening of blood vessels and relaxation of the smooth muscles) occurs to allow blood to flow into the penis and become erect. 

This widening and narrowing of the penile blood vessels are tightly regulated by various molecules in the body. 

Common oral medications for erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra and Cialis, work by inhibiting an important molecule called phosphodiesterase 5a (PDE-5a).¹

By inhibiting this molecule, a cascading effect occurs, which eventually leads to smooth muscle relaxation in the penis and a widening of penile blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood into the spongy tissues (called the corpus cavernosum). 

Pumpkin seeds may have promising use in treating erectile dysfunction by interacting with this pathway. 

In a recent study,² it was found that supplementing the diet with pumpkin seeds improved several biochemical markers associated with erectile dysfunction in rats. Roasted seeds were reported to have more significant effects than raw seeds. These biochemical markers included PDE-5a and nitrous oxide. 

Nitrous oxide is the most common vasodilator in the body; increasing nitrous oxide levels helps regulate blood flow and improves penile function by increasing blood flow into the penis.

The prostate is important for male sexual health, especially in the production of sperm cells. Erectile dysfunction has been associated with BPH, and 70%³ of men with BPH experience erectile dysfunction. Pumpkin seeds may help alleviate symptoms caused by BPH. 

Sexual health benefits

Aphrodisiacs have been noted by many cultures throughout history. While they might not seem to be associated with pleasure, pumpkins can have an impact on sexual health. 

In fact, even the smell of pumpkin can have an effect on men’s sexual desire, with one study⁴ ranking it among the topmost arousing scents. 

Pumpkin seeds can improve sexual health, especially in men, in a number of ways:

Pumpkin seeds may improve prostate health 

Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to improve symptoms of BPH. The oil inhibits an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT stimulates the growth of prostate cells and, when in excess, may contribute to BPH in older men.

Despite the study reporting several improvements in overall quality of life, urine flow, and certain biomarkers, no change in prostate volume was observed. 

Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of zinc 

Zinc is an important mineral for male sexual health. In fact, the prostate accumulates high levels of zinc to be able to perform its function. Zinc deficiency is common in men with BPH.

Pumpkin seeds may help with testosterone production

Pumpkin seeds are high in leucine, which is important for testosterone production. Testosterone is an important hormone for sexual function and libido. 

Some men with erectile dysfunction have low testosterone; however, it is important to note that not every male with low testosterone will have ED, nor does everyone with erectile dysfunction have low testosterone. 

Other benefits of pumpkin seeds

Aside from their benefits to sexual health, pumpkins have been a mainstay in folklore for their value as a healthy food source that also stores well during winter. 

Pumpkin seeds are now considered a health food and are beginning to be thought of as a functional superfood. Here are its other benefits: 

Pumpkin seeds oil may improve bladder health

They are a popular natural treatment for an overactive bladder and can relieve symptoms such as frequent urination and incontinence. 

Pumpkin seed oil may help hair growth 

Consuming pumpkin seed oil has shown positive improvements in men with alopecia (hair loss) by contributing to new hair growth.

Pumpkin seed oils may help protect against cardiovascular disease

Omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid are found in high concentrations in pumpkin seed oil and are known to protect against cardiovascular disease.

Pumpkin seed oil can help heal wounds

Topical application of pumpkin seed oil helps deliver antioxidants and antimicrobial agents, which can help in wound healing.

How do you eat pumpkin seeds for erectile dysfunction?

While there’s no defined recommended daily dose for sexual health, a handful of pumpkin seeds should be eaten every day. You can pick up pumpkin seeds at your local grocery store, or if you have pumpkins at home, you can prepare them from scratch.

The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. To give them more flavor, add a small amount of vegetable oil and toss with your favorite seasonings. Roasted pumpkin seeds are more effective than raw pumpkin seeds at supporting sexual health and prostate function. 

If you’d like to try the benefits of pumpkin seed oil, it can also be added to baked goods, smoothies, yogurt, hummus, and salads. Make sure to store it in a cool, dark place to avoid it going rancid. 

Why you should avoid pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are generally tolerable; however, a few considerations need to be made when adding them to your diet.

Pumpkin seeds can lead to digestive issues

Pumpkin seeds are high in fiber and oils. They can cause bloating and cramping if eaten in excess. Anyone with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease should limit their intake of pumpkin seeds. 

Pumpkin seeds can have a diuretic effect

Because pumpkin seeds can have a dehydrating effect, anyone taking diuretic drugs (water pills) should consult with their doctor before adding them to their diet.

Pumpkin seeds can help lower blood pressure

Anyone with low blood pressure or who’s taking anti-hypertensive medication should speak to a doctor before adding pumpkin seeds to their diet as they may have unwanted side effects. 

Pumpkin seeds are high in calories

Because pumpkin seeds are a high-calorie food, eating them can lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. Anyone on a calorie-restrictive diet should be careful not to eat too many. 

Here is the nutritional value of pumpkin seeds (one ounce or 28 grams of pumpkin seeds):

  • Fat—5 grams

  • Fiber—5 grams

  • Protein—5 grams

  • Potassium—260.5 mg

  • Sodium—5.1 mg

The lowdown

Pumpkin seeds are not only a delicious snack but are also packed with nutrients that could help improve sexual health and relieve erectile dysfunction. While pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed in many ways, roasting them may be more beneficial than eating them raw. 

However, before including pumpkin seeds in your diet plan, be aware that they can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and weight gain and may not be suitable for those with low blood pressure or taking diuretics.

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